Human Services Minister Alan Tudge has labelled Australia’s social security system as “poison” for the unemployed, saying it has become a destination rather than a safety net.
Speaking at a $300 per head lunch last week, Mr Tudge presented the Coalition’s plans for the welfare system to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.
Interestingly, a single ticket to this lunch is equivalent to what a Newstart recipient receives in a week.
Mr Tudge spoke about ideas to reduce the long-term dependency on Centrelink benefits, improve Jobseeker compliance and how to reduce Government spending on welfare.
According to Mr Tudge, the principle behind the Coalition’s policies is “the best form of welfare is a job, and everything should be geared towards supporting capable people into work wherever possible”.
Mr Tudge believes that the welfare system may set up Australians to fail.
“The most pressing problem is that our welfare system is failing too many of the individuals it was set up to serve,” said Mr Tudge.
“Too many people are led into lives of dependence and passivity, with insufficient incentive to make the most of their innate potential.
“While welfare, for a short period, can be a blessing for a capable person temporarily out of work, long-term welfare dependence can become a poison. Over time, welfare dependence sucks the life out of people and can diminish their capability.”
Along with the recipient drug testing program announced in Budget 2017/18, Mr Tudge also disclosed plans to introduce a demerit points system for non-compliance, simplified payment categories and an expansion of the cashless welfare card.
The lunch was attended by economists and political types, but activist group GetUp! made sure that a group of victims of Centrelink’s robo-debt recovery system were present at the event.
GetUp!’s national director, Paul Oosting, said he wanted Mr Tudge to see the real people that have been, and will be, affected by his welfare reforms.
“We want to make sure that everyday Australians, that people who rely on our social safety net, have a seat at the table,” said Mr Oosting. “That’s why we’re here.
“Minister Tudge needs to start listening to these people to understand what it’s like to live on our social safety net and [be] locked out of the jobs market. So, we’re here to make sure he’s confronted by those people.”
Read more at The Guardian
If the best form of welfare is a job, should the Government be doing more to improve Australian job prospects? Should the Government be spending less on lunches and more on serving the needs of average Australians? Is Mr Tudge even qualified to make such statements?