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Government misleads over failed attempt to bash casual workers.

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Wayne Swan MP

Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services


Government Misleads over Failed Attempt to Bash Casual Workers


The Government are now sore losers over their failed attempt to penalise casual and contract workers after Lab or blocked their legislation (the Social Security (Meaning of Seasonal Work) Determination) in the Senate yesterday, Wayne Swan, Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services, said today.


Government Ministers are also misrepresenting Labor’s reasons for opposing the’ legislation. In the House of Representatives today the Minister for Community Services, Warren Truss, said that Labor had done a backflip since it supported earlier legislation affecting seasonal workers last year. He also claimed that the Opposition had bowed to pressure from the unions to allow people earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to claim social security benefits.


Each of these claims is entirely false, Mr Swan said.


The aim of the earlier legislation was to ensure that seasonal workers who earn substantially more than average annual incomes in short periods every year could not claim social security support for the remainder of each year. Labor does not support people taking advantage of the system in this way, which is why we supported the original legislation.


The legislation, which was defeated in the Senate last night, extended the rules to casual or contract workers in a way that is not in keeping with the purpose of original legislation. It would have meant that some casual workers with low annual incomes and no job security, who have relatively short periods of high-paid work, could be required to wait for months after finishing work before receiving social security benefits. People affected in this way can include casual workers in just about any industry, such as casual teachers, workers in the hospitality industry and casual security guards.


The proposal was not only inequitable, but would have had the effect of reducing the incentive for people to join the workforce. It must not be forgotten that, for many people, casual work is a stepping stone from welfare to permanent employment. The Government should not be erecting obstacles in the paths of people seeking such work.


Labor put a proposal to the Government that would have protected casual workers with low annual incomes while, at the same time, preventing abuse of the system, but the Government rejected it.


The Government would do well to listen to the suggestion made by Senator Harradine during debate in the Senate that they re-consider Labor’s proposal.






Contact: Wayne Swan on 0418 795 329