WELFARE should not be a lifestyle choice, Braddon Liberal MHR Brett Whiteley said yesterday. After Abbott government Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews announced a welfare review, Mr Whiteley said one in five Australians were sharing about $70 billion a year in welfare.
“Some of these people are not genuinely unemployed and the government has a responsibility not to make welfare more comfortable than work.”
State Human Services Minister Rebecca White described the move as an attack on disadvantaged and low-income Tasmanians.
The Coalition is concerned about increasing numbers of Australians on Newstart and disability pensions in particular, and that welfare spending needs to be kept affordable as the population ages.
Tasmania had 18,800 unemployed people in December, not counting age pensioners, single parents on welfare, disability pensioners and others dependent wholly or partly on welfare.
Mr Whiteley said the age pension would not be affected.
“The welfare system provides an important safety net for the elderly, genuinely unemployed, disabled and other vulnerable people in society, but if people can work they should be supported and encouraged to work.”
From the get go, I have supported making welfare what you fall back on in times of need or if you’re genuinely disabled, not a lifestyle choice.
“I think any fair-minded Australian accepts our responsibility to protect those who are vulnerable and need our support.”
Ms White said the federal Liberal Party was starting to show its true colours.
“The Liberal Party will put dollar signs before people every time.”
“Any cuts to welfare will have more impact in Tasmania, as we have a greater proportion of people living with disability than other states.
“We will stand firmly with disadvantaged Tasmanians to protect their rights and income from being eroded by the Abbott government.”
Echoing past political leaders, including Labor’s Mark Latham, Mr Whiteley said a job was the best form of welfare.
While the review of welfare payments will be looking at mid to long-term strategies, the Coalition has been quick to help long-term unemployed back into the workforce.
“That is why we brought forward the start date for the Tas employment program by six months and will be providing significant incentives to help people move to regional areas from July 1.”
He said a pension should not be the default position for people with a disability.
The government should be doing everything it can to help disabled persons contribute in the workforce.”
Former Mission Australia head Patrick McClure will head the review.
He headed an advisory group under the Howard government.
In 2000, the group recommended a single payment for all welfare recipients.
Source: http://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/2037894/welfare-should-not-be-more-appealing-option-than-work-brett-whiteley/?cs=12# 01.21.2014