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Government blew $500 million of disability services funding on election promises.

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Government blew $500 million of disability services funding on election promises

The Howard Government frittered away half a billion dollars promised for services for people with disabilities in an effort to get re-elected - money it is now trying to make up by cutting the pensions of the disabled.

In July 2000 Minister Anthony announced the Federal Government’s commitment to $100 million per annum of extra funding for disability services across Australia to meet spiralling unmet need. This money was duly put into services across the country.

But before November 10, the Howard Government raided the cookie jar and spent its future allocation of disability services money getting re-elected. Now it is trying to raise these funds by slashing 200,000 Disability Support Pensioners’ payments by $52 a fortnight.

Labor will not support cutting disability pensions or cutting disability services - the choice Minister Vanstone offered on Budget night as a way of paying for the Government’s economic mismanagement.

It will be on the Government’s head that, in five weeks time when the money runs out, hundreds of disability services face closure and tens of thousands of people with disabilities and their families will be left without support.

In Queensland, 1,200 families face a reduction of disability support services; in New South Wales, 200 services across the state are in jeopardy; and in Victoria $25 million worth of HomeFirst, Respite and flexible care assistance could be withdrawn as a result of the Howard Government’s theft.

No person with a disability wants his or her continued access to respite, accommodation and support services to come at the expense of another person’s pension.

But today on Sunday Sunrise, this was the stark choice offered by Minister Vanstone. Three times she was asked whether the Government would push ahead with its blackmail on disability funding - three times she refused say they wouldn’t.

Labor will not be bullied into supporting pension cuts of any kind - whether they are to pay for the continuation of disability services as a result of economic mismanagement or to achieve savings off the backs of sole parents under the guise of creating a common workforce age payment.

ENDS Sun 26 May 02 Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329

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

Web: Michael Lye on 0407 012 088