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'Welfare to Work' now just 'Welfare to Welfare'

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'Welfare to Work' now just 'Welfare to Welfare'

Media Statement - 9th May 2005

A scheme in tomorrow's Budget to put single parents on the dole when their youngest child goes to primary school, shows the Howard Government does not understand how to move people from welfare to work, Shadow Employment Minister Penny Wong said today.

"The Howard Government is moving people from one welfare payment to another," Senator Wong said.

"These changes won't move people from welfare to work, they will only move people from the pension to the dole.

"The Howard Government does not understand that welfare reform is about developing work opportunities for welfare recipients.

"That means a major investment in the pre-vocational and vocational skills of welfare recipients.

"Like other jobseekers, welfare recipients will only get a job if they have the skills an employer wants.

"Investing in welfare recipients' skills also helps Australia address the chronic skills shortage which is putting upward pressure on interest rates.

"But putting single parents, who have to meet the additional costs of raising a family, on a lower payment, does nothing to help their job prospects — in fact it could be counterproductive.

"Training and looking for work add to the financial outlays of families, but the Howard Government doesn't understand how its schemes make family life harder rather than better.

"As John Howard and Peter Costello compete over who is harsher on welfare, the first casualties of their leadership war are the disabled, single parents and the unemployed.

"Instead of being hairy-chested, the Howard Government should implement a plan to help people to get off welfare and stay off welfare."

Australian Labor Party National ALP

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Penny Wong