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New welfare approaches needed to tackle poverty



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> * 1 SENATOR TONY MESSNER SHADf)^ y^kjlSTER FOR COMMUNITY SERVICES

THE SENATE

NEW WELF A R E APPROACHES N E E D E D TO TACK L E P O V E R T Y

United States statistics which showed real reductions in

poverty being brought about through tax reductions and the

provision of economic incentives rather than traditional

welfare programmes held lessons for a n t i - poverty policies

in Australia.

Senator Tony Messner - the Shadow Minister for Community

Services - said that specific-need related welf a r e programmes

had the potential to become self-perpetuating.

"Introduction of measu r e s like the Sup p o r t i n g Parents'

B e n e f i t , w hile initially m e e t i n g a specific need, sooner or

later ends up creating a need and results in people being

condemned to lives on Commonwealth income s u p p o r t ."

"Such prog r a m m e s are particularly que s t i o n a b l e when they

are desi g n e d to impose upon all taxpayers the costs resulting

from the actions of two i n d i v i d u a l s . "

"Currently in Australia there are few effective mechanisms

for obta i n i n g m a i n tenance for the n o n-caring parent and in

those cases where main t e n a n c e paym e n t s are set by the

Family L a w Court they are done so on the b a s i s of eligibility

for s u p p o r t i n g parents' benefit rather than the ability of

the n o n - c a r i n g parent to pay."

"Clearly both those matters require alteration."

Senator M e s s n e r said that economic cir c u m s t a n c e s and changing

social a ttitudes require governments to look at tackling

poverty in non-traditional ways. ■

"Integration of the social security and taxation systems so

that the overall marginal tax rates faced by beneficiaries

are reduced, and the use of the Tax Act to provide incentives

for independence are two examples of this."

REPRESENTING IN THE SENATE: S H A D O W MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SECURITY, EMPLOYMENT & INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS A N D IM M IG RATIO N A N D ETHNIC AFFAIRS

2 /

"Presently, the lack of integration means that beneficiaries

suffer effective tax rates of upwards of 65% and clearly this

acts as a huge disincentive for these people to look for

work to supplement or replace their government benefits."

"There must be a recognition that the promotion of independ­

ence amongst people in poverty cannot simply be achieved

through welfare programmes, but must also be aimed for in

other wider government programmes and initiatives."

"The Liberal and National Parties are aware of this and our

policy development will reflect it."

ADELAIDE 29 AUGUST 1985

Contact: Barry O'Farrell (08) 213 2240