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Coalition admits mistakes but won't stop shoot first ask questions later policy.

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Coalition admits mistakes but won’t stop shoot first ask questions later policy

Minister Vanstone’s admission today that the Government has been breaching jobseekers unfairly is welcome, but some of the changes announced may make things worst for the disadvantaged.

Minister Vanstone’s plan to ‘suspend’ the entire payments of jobseekers who miss interviews rather than breaching them - taking a percentage of the income away - will hit the homeless and those with an intellectual disability harder.

The problem the Minister has failed to acknowledge is the automatic application of penalties without proper checking - shooting first, asking questions later.

Under the Government’s policy, breaching has been used to raise revenue rather than police payments.

This forces Centrelink to automatically punish jobseekers rather than first determining why a person has not complied with the system.

People who are homeless, those with a mental illness and the intellectually disabled will still be punished; they will now have their entire payment withheld.

Minister Vanstone should have waited for the findings of the independent review commissioned by ACOSS into breaching that is due to report within a week.

The ACOSS review will bring the views of organisations working face to face with disadvantaged jobseekers to the Government.

It is a concern that Minister Vanstone does not want to hear the views of the people at the coalface on this issue.

If the Minister is genuine about reforming unfair breaching practices, she will commit to implement the recommendations of the independent committee and not just the face saving measures she has announced today.

ENDS Mon 04 Mar 02 Web:

Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329 Michael Lye on 0407 012 088

Wayne Swan MP Manager of Opposition Business Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services