The Government’s MYEFO has once again proven to be a budget document lacking imagination that seeks to pick apart the thread of our social safety net while offering no real solutions to overcoming barriers people face that keep them below the poverty line and out of work.
“Another MYEFO has passed and the Government has once again failed to meaningfully address major underlying issues with our social safety net that are having a huge impact on our most vulnerable and increasing inequality.
“The Government has strongly focussed recently on vilifying income support recipients so they can use ‘fraud crackdown’ as their main savings item in MYEFO and beyond. The Greens agree that addressing genuine instances of fraud is important, but the fact is this focus on data matching is likely to hurt vulnerable Australians and cause heart ache for many. The Centrelink system is fundamentally broken and urgently needs repairing.
“The Government has failed to significantly increase funding for fixing the broken Centrelink system. For instance, the number of calls to Centrelink that hit a busy signal has ballooned out to nearly 29 million for 2015-16, up from 22 million the previous year.
“There is clearly a need for the Department of Human Services to have a large injection of staff funding but this has failed to materialise in MYEFO. We have heard that often Centrelink recipients genuinely can’t get through to amend payments when necessary and haven't been able to contact them when they get a debt notice.
“The Government is clearly out to catch those that may be fraudulent, but overwhelmingly people who are doing the right thing are being caught up in bureaucracy that makes their lives intentionally harder. The fact is the Government does not want you to access this social safety net.
“The Government has provided limited detail on how they will achieve such large savings for this crackdown. We will be investigating this as more details emerge.
“If the Government is so set on catching out ‘frauds’, then they surely must turn their attention to the extremely wealthy who we know are using tax loopholes and costing the budget bottom line to the tune of millions and millions”.