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Citizenship test a grave insult

Prime Minister Howard's new citizenship test is an insult to Aboriginal Australians and to the hundreds of thousands of committed, hard-working Australians who do not claim British ancestry.

Among the values laid out in the draft copy of the Government's new citizenship guidelines are tolerance and compassion, freedom of speech and a respect for Australia's British heritage.

"What about respect for the first Australians and their living culture?"

"Will there be questions about the first true Australians?"

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Studying single mums forced into child care debt

"Many single mums are being forced to drop out of degrees and take on huge debts since the Government changed its eligibility criteria for childcare assistance while studying," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

Prior to July 2006 the "Jobs, Education and Training (JET) program" helped eligible single parents studying at University or TAFE to cover the costs of childcare. New changes to the system now only recognise courses up to 12 months long. This is leaving single parents without any hope of obtaining a higher education.

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Greens: Apply new baby bonus rules to all

The Greens want all parents to receive the Baby Bonus in fortnightly payments, not just those under the age of 18.

The Greens will today seek to amend the Government's baby bonus legislation to extend fortnightly payments to all recipients unless a lump sum is specifically approved.

The reasons the Government put forward for limiting payments to those under 18 apply to all parents, and in fact many of those reasons apply more to those over 18.

"Young mothers have been unduly discriminated against in this legislative change."

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The statistics Hockey didn't mention - women

"The ABS statistics released today on working hours show women are losing out in our workplaces," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"More women than men are working multiple jobs. 58% of employees who work more than one job are women. This startling statistic is a consequence of government policies that have reduced many women to needing to take more than one part-time job to make ends meet," she said.

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Aid/Watch only the first of many to fall

"The decision by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) to strip Aid/Watch of its charity tax status is another attack on Australian democracy," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"Aid/Watch is only the first of a large number of community organisations, from environment groups to welfare organisations who we can expect to lose tax deductibility status in an attempt to either silence them or starve them of funds."

"Aid/Watch is only the first in the line of dominos to go down in the start of a major campaign to silence dissent."

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Government cuts legal centre funds as demand for workplace advice rises

"With increasing numbers of employers and employees struggling to negotiate the complex legislative tangle of Work Choices it makes little sense for the Government to cut the funding for workplace advice," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

When Senator Siewert cross-examined the Office of the Employment Advocate (OEA) in Senate Estimates today they were unable to justify why they had cut funding to community legal centres (CLCs) for providing workplace advice.

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Motion - UN Convention on the rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities


Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia)
(3.43 pm)-I move:

That the Senate:

(a) welcomes the adoption in December 2006 by
the United Nations of the Convention on the
Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities;

(b) asks the Government to show leadership at
home and to the international community by
being one of the first countries to be a signatory
to the Convention when this is possible
after 30 March 2007.

Question agreed to.

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Is Australia Fair?

The idea of a fair go is fundamental to the vision that many Australians hold of what is important to the life of our nation.

But is today's Australia really fair?

Right now there are two million Australians who do not have an acceptable standard of living and go without the bare necessities: housing, work, education, health care and community services.

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