Welfare Bill A Sham Says Muriel Newman
The Social Security Bill tabled today by the Minister of
Social Services and Employment, Steve Maharey, has been
described as a sham, by ACT Employment and Welfare
Spokesman, Dr Muriel Newman.
“The Minister, who talked big, promising major changes to the Community Wage scheme before the election, has once again failed to deliver”, said Dr Newman.
“This is the biggest flip flop by this Minister since his now infamous u-turn in describing Christine Rankin as a ‘dedicated and impressive’ public servant”.
"Mr Maharey claimed that he would soften sanctions; he has not. Instead he has removed the small penalties that mirror the workplace – such as docking the benefit for being late. Under this bill, someone turning up late will either get no penalty, or they will have their benefit totally suspended.
“Further, in spite of all of his promises in opposition, he has failed to remove the part time work testing of sole parents with children aged 6 to 13, that he railed against so vigorously in opposition. Instead he has toughened the sanctioned for sole parents.
"The bill provides that job-seekers can be required to participate in a variety of prescribed activities, all of which are subjected to sanctions, except for community work. Although WINZ can request people to participate in community work, the bill now fails to provide any sanction options if they refuse to co-operate.
"This bill is overwhelmingly cosmetic. The Beneficiary Unions, the Greens, and the Alliance, will be hard to placate if they wake up to this sham. It’s no wonder the Minister is tabling this Bill now, hoping it will be lost in the Employment Relations Bill debate."
"Mr Maharey has once again been exposed as a sound-byte Minister. I predict he will face huge problems when the Greens realise how little substance there is in this Bill," concluded Muriel Newman.