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Acoss' vision blinkered

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The president of ACOSS, Ms Merle Mitchell's criticism of the Opposition's social welfare policy at the National Press Club today is ill informed, Shadow Minister for Social Security, Mr David Connolly said.

Once again she has displayed her blinkered vision.

ms Mitchell continuously refuses to look at the total package and selectively targets the detailed expenditure savings.

She seems to think that $5 million for voluntary agencies from Mr Keating is better than $100 million from the Coalition - tell that to the unemployed.

The Coalition has never suggested that the income security system should be transferred to the non-government sector, that suggestion had more to do with ACOSS' wilful

misrepresentation of our policy position.

However program delivery of welfare services must be on the basis of a clear judgement on which sector can provide services with the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.

Merle Mitchell should be aware that many families and individuals in crisis have found to their cost that they cannot expect round-the-clock help from the Government.

ACOSS' apparent fixation with privatisation has passed the threshold of common sense.

Ms- Mitchell continues to claim that Fightback cuts expenditure by $1 billion on programs which assist unemployed people.

This is nonsense. Changes in the structure of welfare expenditure together with greater priority on a more active approach to employment creation and thus greater job opportunities is surely preferable to maintaining a status quo which has consigned 1 million Australians to the scrapheap of unemployment, ,

We make no apology for wanting to change this situation especially in areas where we believe current policies have

Ms Mitchell has once again asserted that under Fightback at the end of nine months 90,000 people are going to be cast out of the welfare system, or as Mr Keating said in relation to his own Jobsearch Allowance they will be "bumped off".



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it is time that she understood the facts. Our policy provides that after nine months:

. young unemployed will still be eligible for the youth training wage

. mature aged unemployed will still be eligible for the Austrain program

. others will go into existing and enhanced training programs run by both government and voluntary agencies

. while others will find jobs and those who cannot, but have met the requirements of the work test, will be eligible for Special Benefits.

The only people not qualifying for welfare support will be those who have voluntarily chosen not to accept training, not to accept job offers and have thus wilfully failed the work test.

What the Coalition wants is a more proactive welfare system which gives the unemployed maximum support, counselling and training opportunities as early as possible.

What the Government wants and apparently what ACOSS wants is the inefficient and maladministered current system which does neither the unemployed nor the taxpayer justice.