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Incompetence or budget cuts the cause of welfare reform bill delay

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Incompetence on the part of Minister Vanstone or a deliberate strategy to save money are the only possible explanations for the Government’s failure to table legislation restoring spending on welfare programs three years after the commitment to reform was first made.

Key components of the Government’s welfare reform agenda are due to commence on July 1 - now just four Parliamentary sitting weeks away.

Despite the closeness of the deadline and Labor’s requests to see draft legislation, the Government has been unable to provide any details.

This will not allow the Opposition sufficient time to properly scrutinise the complex and lengthy legislation.

The Government first announced welfare reform was its highest priority nearly three years ago in September 1999 and the Government’s detailed plans were prepared ahead of last years Budget.

Despite all this lead-time, Minister Vanstone has been unable to produce the legislation necessary to allow money to be spent on helping people get back to work.

She is either grossly incompetent or deliberately dragging her feet to save money.

While he is unable to articulate a third term agenda, the Prime Minister is quick to list those of his second term.

He always counts welfare reform as one of his second term achievements.

The trouble is he hasn’t achieved anything yet.

He has been so busy saving his political hide he hasn’t had time to check whether the reforms he trumpeted a year ago have been legislated for.

If welfare reform was such a priority for the Government, the Australians Working Together Legislation would have been the first tabled of the new Parliament.

Instead, the Government is proposing to try and ram through its legislation without proper scrutiny at two minutes to midnight.

People with disabilities and the unemployed deserve better than this.

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

ENDS Tuesday 2 April 02 Web:

Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329 Michael Lye on 0407 012 088