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Government's responsibilities not being met in new welfare policy

The Greens have criticised the lack of balance in Julia Gillard's new "Modernising Australia's Welfare System" policy, suggesting that many of the opportunities it claims to be creating are illusory and the responsibility all seems to be heading in one direction.

“Today's announcement is framed in the language of 'mutual responsibility' but when you look at the details behind the announcement, it’s clear that the Gillard Government does not have the means to deliver on their end of the deal," said Greens community services spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert.

“This is quite frankly double-speak from the ALP," Senator Siewert said.

“When you look at the bottom line they have promised a series of welfare changes which will require more resources to implement, but there is no corresponding increase in the welfare budget to deliver the extra services and support they are promising.

“The new policy also makes it crystal clear that extending income management across Australia is on the ALPs agenda – its not a matter of 'if', but simply an issue of when and how: 'The first step is getting underway across the Northern Territory, and this experience will inform the future roll-out of income management across Australia'- page 8.

“Keeping in mind that income management has been found to cost around $4500 per person per annum – this will mean a substantial increase in Centrelink administration. Without a major increase in the welfare budget this will mean a significant cut in other support services.

“Income management is an expensive measure with little if any evidence to suggest it produces results.

“It makes no sense to be cutting other services, such as instance intensive family supports services  (with a cost benefit of $8 for every $1 spent) to implement this punitive and demeaning approach,”concluded Senator Siewert.

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