Big brother Abbott dips into welfare

Posted on July 28, 2010 by

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All welfare recipients could lose control of at least 50 per cent of their income if a Coalition government wins the upcoming election.

Giving a speech at the Sydney Institute last night, Mr Abbott called for a national welfare quarantining measure that extends the Income Management Bill currently in place in the Northern Territory.
“I ask the question: ‘If it’s right and just in the territory, as it is on the government’s assessment, why not apply it elsewhere?” Mr Abbott said.

Income management was recently rolled out to more than 20 000 people in the NT, with the hope that limiting control of half a person’s income will see more money spent on essentials like fruit and vegetables, not alcohol and gambling.

In a bid to reassure taxpayers that welfare payments are put to good use, Mr Abbott says an elected Coalition would review the NT scheme in July next year with the intention of implementing a broader scheme.

Mr Abbott’s ‘punish one, punish all’ strategy is not too different to the Labor party’s plan to review income management at the end of next year before considering a national rollout.

Sole parent Petra Hilton of Hornsby, Sydney says a national welfare quarantining scheme would make living on welfare payments more difficult.

Petra says the money she receives on the Parenting Payment is spent on essentials like groceries and utility bills, leaving little money at the end of the week for luxuries.

“It’s like the government is assuming that because I’m a single mother it must mean that I am a bad person who drinks and smokes and can’t look after her kid. It’s just not the case,” she said.

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert says there is little evidence to suggest that a national rollout of Income Management would actually work.

“Income management doesn’t work and Mr Abbott should go and review the evidence and develop a more compassionate policy that helps the disadvantaged in our community,” Senator Siewert said today.

Despite opposition from the community and welfare groups, the Federal Government has allocated $410 million over five years to manage the 20,000 welfare recipients, which equates to approximately $5,000 per person income-managed, each year: or ten times what that person would receive to help them get a job.

It appears the coalition would do much the same, but sooner rather than later.

Income management currently applies to all people under 25 who have been on welfare for more than three months or people over 25 on welfare for a year.

Words – Joel Tozer

Image – jthommo101

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Posted in: Joel Tozer, Reports