The Australian Greens have said today that Governments proposed ‘investment approach’ to income support will fail if broader social policy settings do not change and if the overhaul is pursued with intentions to plug up the budget.
“Like much of the community service sector, I am cynical when it comes to the Government’s so called ‘revolutionary’ approach for income support. Time and time again vulnerable Australians have been attacked for savings, so stakeholders and the community are justifiably worried that this is a further excuse to erode our social safety net.
“A key change must be to improve the adequacy payments and increase woefully low Newstart. To argue in National Press Club against a Newstart increase demonstrates a poor understanding of how much the most vulnerable are struggling to get by.
“In the same speech Minister Porter said measures would be evaluated and they would not spend money because it emotively appears to be useful, yet they continue with measures such as compulsory income management. Repeated evaluations show compulsory income management does not work, where is the revolutionary change?
“There are barriers to employment that urgently need addressing. The Government needs strong policy settings to make this work, including a National Poverty Plan. Unless there is stronger social policy that addresses the causes of entrenched disadvantage the Try, Test and Learn fund will not be successful, as it simply won’t be able to address these underlying causes.
“A half-baked version of the New Zealand approach that fails to broadly address poverty and disadvantage will leave us worse off than when we started. The Greens will closely scrutinise these measures”.