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Thursday, 13 November 2008
Page: 10978


Mr BROADBENT (11:29 AM) —Since the resumption today of this debate on the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Employment Services Reform) Bill 2008 I have been sorely disappointed at the presentations of government members. They failed in their addresses to look at the history of this issue, when breaching first began with the Hawke-Keating government. That government struggled with how to get unemployed people re-engaged in the workforce. That is what it was all about. The process of Welfare to Work was to get people re-engaged in the workforce. This has been a crucial issue for people, particularly people in my electorate, who found great difficulty in being able to cope with that which was put upon them, especially the punitive measures that affected women in rural areas.

So what did we do? We did not just can what had gone on in the past. What we said recently was that we would go to Brendan O’Connor and tell him, with Salvation Army support, that we will get a group of people together and have a discussion, which we did. Everybody involved with unemployed people in the electorate of McMillan was invited to come to a forum. We had the forum and we put the issues that were raised in that forum to the minister. Some of this legislation has actually come out of the forum that we ran on behalf of basically rural women with regard to the effects on them in their given electorate. This has been an issue all the way through from the Hawke government to the Howard government.

The intention of Welfare to Work was always well based, with the support and welfare of the unemployed person at its pinnacle. That is what the program was all about. These are minimal changes. What you have seen in the addresses today were attacks on the Howard government, basically for no reason, and an expression by every member that the actual program was correct—that the legislation was correct and that this is what we want to achieve. The new government is trying to achieve exactly what we were trying to achieve, just in a new way.