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Let's work together on welfare reform



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

LET’S WORK TOGETHER ON WELFARE REFORM

The Prime Minister’s claim to be a reformer on the scale of Hawke and Keating is nonsense and any claim that she’s spending less than the Howard Government is nonsense on stilts. The Prime Minister’s carbon tax and her mining tax are not reforms. They’re just further hits on Australians’ cost of living.

Still, if the Prime Minister wants to reform social welfare arrangements to encourage greater participation in the workforce, she will have strong in-principle support from the Coalition.

The Coalition has a specific plan to boost participation. On the evidence of her CEDA speech yesterday, the Prime Minister has a mere aspiration to do so, not a plan. I urge her to adopt specific participation-boosting policies such as those that the Coalition took to the last election and am happy to work constructively with her to this end, in a spirit of bi-partisanship.

The Coalition proposed a wage subsidy of up to $3250 to employers who took on for more than six months a welfare dependent person over 50 years of age.

The Coalition also offered a $2500 commitment bonus to unemployed young people who held a job for more than a year and a relocation allowance of up to $6000 for people who moved to take up a job (and who would not then be permitted to return to welfare for six months).

Welfare savings would make these measures cost neutral.

The Government should swiftly announce the participation boosting reforms that the Prime Minister talked about yesterday. On this subject, she has no conceivable excuse for being more talk than action because the Coalition would work with her to make sensible participation-boosting reforms happen.

2 February 2011