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Dems [Democrats] urge those on low incomes to speak up on welfare reform



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Media Release

Senator Andrew Bartlett 

Senator for Queensland 

Australian Democrats spokesperson for Welfare

12/12/99

Dems urge those on low incomes to speak up  

on welfare reform

Welfare reform is in danger of becoming a one way debate according to the Australian Democrats.

With submissions to the Government’s Welfare Reform Reference group closing this Friday, Senator Bartlett, the Democrats’ spokesperson on welfare, is urging disability pensioners and those on parenting payments in particular, to write to the Government.

Senator Bartlett said the debate about welfare reform should occur openly, not in a backroom by bureaucrats and politicians.

"Welfare reform could have severe consequences for the most vulnerable members of our community.

"It is crucial that welfare recipients, who are those who could have most to lose, should have clear opportunities to have their voices heard on this issue, " Senator Bartlett said.

"The Democrats welcomed the belated release of the Government’s discussion paper on welfare reform but generally to date the process has been extremely poorly handled.

"The Democrats have expressed particular concern about any plans to implement mutual obligation for Parenting Payment recipients is of great concern to the Democrats because punishment for non-compliance, such as the withdrawal of payments, falls on children.

"The Democrats believe parenting is an important job in its own right, we should not be making it more difficult for parents to do that job.

"Already, over half of Australia's 447,000 Sole Parents receiving income support are in the workforce. Others might like to work but need job opportunities, training and support services such as affordable child care to make this possible.

"The Democrats are keeping an open mind on welfare reform, but we will hold the government to their promise that there will not be any reduction in pension or allowance rates of assistance," said Senator Bartlett.

The Reference Group on Welfare Reform has been asked to provide an interim report to the Minister for Family and Community Services early next year with a final draft to be provided to the Minister by 30 June 2000.

"A submission can be as simple as a one page letter or even a Xmas card. Everyone’s views are relevant and the terms of reference are quite broad," said Senator Bartlett.

Submissions (or Xmas cards) can be sent to the Welfare Group via Senator Newman at Parliament House Canberra 2600 or for free to Senator Bartlett (reply paid 79, Suite 14B1, 7/421 Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley, 4006), who will pass them on.

 

 

jy  1999-12-15  15:22