Welfare Challenges For New Parliament

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10th September 2010, 01:27pm - Views: 692

ABN: 76 002 708 714    102/55 Holt Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010

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Welfare Rights Centre is a member of the National Association of Community Legal Centres™

Media Release  

10 September 2010

Welfare challenges for the new Parliament

The Welfare Rights Centre congratulates Prime Minster Gillard for her successful negotiations

and the formation of a minority government with the support of the Greens and three

Independents.  We also acknowledge the new role of the Greens in the Senate and the fact that

the Opposition’s traditional role may be different in the new Parliament.

We call for considered and beneficial welfare reforms from the new Government. The

Government must release more comprehensive and timely data about our Social Security system

to enable non-government organisations and the wider community to contribute fully to the

historic, new Parliament.   In the federal election campaign, both major parties jostled to be

considered “toughest” on unemployed people and to extend compulsory income management.  

Labor announced a welcome policy for people on low incomes with children 16 to 18 years.  The

Greens proposed a number of beneficial welfare policies.

The fall in the official unemployment figures to 5.1% in August is great news.   However, we

must pay heed to the fact the number of people long-term unemployed continues to rise by 1000

a week. During the election campaign the Welfare Rights Centre highlighted the need to address

low rates of social security payments for unemployed people and students, rental pressures,

utility costs and Centrelink overpayments. 

These problems affect the 2.2 million Australians living in poverty, no matter where they live.

The unfinished business of modernising our tax and welfare systems must not stall.  In this

respect, the proposal to hold a summit to discuss the Henry Review recommendations is

particularly welcome.

Welfare Rights welcomes opportunities for greater scrutiny, openness and accountability in the

Parliament, and look forward to a greater focus on policy detail and substance, rather than the

obsession with six second new grabs.  

As a community legal centre which specialises in Social Security and Family Assistance

Legislation and its administration by Centrelink, the reforms to the legislation and committee

processes in the House of Representatives will also require a greater effort on our part to ensure

that the Parliament gets it right.

In this new and unchartered territory there will be an important and critical role for politicians to

listen to non-government organisations, and take account of the impacts of its policies. We look

forward to the resumption of Parliament on the 28th of September.  Given the state of play in the

both the house and the senate, it’s fair to say that there is a new game in Canberra and it is no

longer enough to carry on with business as usual. 

For comment: Maree O’Halloran, Director, Welfare Rights Centre: 0417 672 104 or Gerard

Thomas: 0425 296 882.

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