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Government turns its back on welfare reform.

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Government turns its back on welfare reform

The Howard Government today refused to pass its own welfare reform measures which would have seen 2.5 million social security recipients gain access to welfare to work initiatives.

Labor split the Government’s Australians Working Together Bill in the Senate to ensure the quick passage of the $1,000 Working Credit and its Literacy Supplement.

The measures were passed by the Senate, but were junked by the Coalition in the House today.

Labor has tabled reasonable amendments to the contentious aspects of the original Bill, which remain in the Senate, awaiting the Government’s decision to debate them.

The Government is trying to use these modest amendments as an excuse for reneging on around $430 million in welfare expenditure.

The Government has already delayed the Working Credit by eight months to save money.

Now Senator Vanstone has been instructed to find a way of walking away from positive welfare reforms to shore up Peter Costello’s budget.

Labor has engaged the Government in an effort to ensure the passage of this Bill.

Labor wants to pursue amendments to the new participation requirements for parents to ensure there is no conflict with their childrearing responsibilities, and to ensure the new requirements for the mature aged recognise their disadvantage in the job market.

We also want reform of the current breaching regime. The independent Pearce report provides a firm but fair blueprint for reform. Labor wants its recommendations enacted.

These are reasonable amendments.

The Government is being bloody minded because it intends to walk away from welfare reform.

If it does, it will have to wear the consequences.

ENDS Thurs 03 Dec 02 Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329

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

Web: Matt Linden on 0407 430 613