Porter Flags Cuts to Disability Payments
Thursday, 15th October 2015 at 8:19 am
New Social Services Minister Christian Porter believes Australia is spending too much money and has flagged cuts to carer and disability payments.
In his first detailed interview since being named Social Services Minister by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Porter said that his portfolio needed to be “a big contributor to slowing the growth of expenditure down”.
Porter indicated to broadcaster Alan Jones that the government would look to disability and carer payments as a way to cut spending.
“You’ve got things like the disability support pension, over the last decade that’s been growing at about 7 per cent a year in real terms. That is just not sustainable into the future,” Porter said.
“[Another] example is the carer income support that the taxpayer pays. Over the last decade that has been growing at 14 per cent a year.
“Any rational government has to try and get a handle on that kind of expenditure growth and restrain it.”
Porter said he rejected the “siren song” that tackling spending in social services was unfair.
“The most unfair thing a government can do is expect a future generation of taxpayers to pay for today’s welfare bill by virtue of the fact that [what] we are borrowing today… has to be paid back by taxpayers of the future,” he said.
Porter also said that the Government needed to simplify the welfare system by streamlining some payments.
“We cannot go on the way that we have been with a system that is so complicated that it’s not navigable by anyone who actually needs it,” he said.
Shadow Minister for Families and Payments, Jenny Macklin, said that Porter was echoing the tone delivered by his predecessors Scott Morrison and Kevin Andrews.
“Unfortunately, Mr Porter seems to think his new job is to take support away from vulnerable Australians; to hurt them rather than support them,” Macklin said.
“The job of Social Services Minister is to ensure that people with disability, carers and other vulnerable Australians get the care and support they need to help them get work, or if they can’t work, to live a decent life.
“Cutting their support will not help them get work. It will only push them further into hardship and poverty.
“The fact that Christian Porter has flagged another round of cuts in the middle of Anti-Poverty Week shows just how out of touch he is.”
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said the timing of Porter’s comments was unfortunate.
“It is unfortunately completely unsurprising that the Turnbull Government is proposing spending cuts to our most vulnerable during National Anti-Poverty Week and National Carers Week,” Siewert said.
“This week more than ever the Government should be acting to lift people out of poverty rather than entrenching it. They should be increasing Newstart by $50 per week.
“It is very disappointing that Malcolm Turnbull is taking the same approach as the Abbott Government when it comes to attacking our most vulnerable.
“I urge the Government to quickly drop any plans to cut disability and carer payments and focus budget savings on the big end of town.”