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Cash rich government threatens disabled with deepening poverty.

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Senator Kerry Nettle Senator for New South Wales

Cash rich government threatens Disabled with deepening poverty

19th April 2005

The Australian Greens today called on the federal government to abandon its plans to make life harder for people with disabilities following a report that showed as many as 120,000 people would be worse off under the changes. A report by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) released today found that 60,000 people who apply for the Disability Support Pension (DSP) in the next three years will be as much as $2,000 a year worse off by being moved to Newstart Allowance and another 64,000 people receiving the DSP could lose income because of changes to indexation. Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said there was no excuse for pushing people with a disability into poverty, particularly when the government is expected to have a significant budget surplus. "The government's plans to make it harder for people with disabilities to receive the DSP were rejected by the Senate in 2003 because they were manifestly unfair and they are still unfair," Senator Nettle said. "The Productivity Commission last week identified this change to the DSP as unlikely to result in a significant increase in workforce participation but instead to increase unemployment figures. "People with a disability should be assisted to find paid work where appropriate but in doing so they should not be financially worse off. They face additional costs when moving into work, such as for transport, care and equipment. The concessions attached to the DSP are crucially important, especially for medical and travel expenses. "The government needs to focus on positive measures to assist those wanting to work to move into the workforce. The Greens support investment in training and support, tackling employer discrimination and addressing the high marginal tax rates faced by those moving from welfare to work. "The government should go back to the drawing board and prepare a proper plan to assist those people with a disability who want to

undertake paid work and it must give an undertaking that no one will be worse off as a result of any changes the government makes."

Jon Edwards 0428 213 146