An increase in welfare payments for selected people has been raised in Parliament by Indi MP Cathy McGowan and quickly knocked down by the government.
Ms McGowan introduced her Social Security Commission Bill yesterday, which she said would bring a compassionate approach to people on pensions, new start and youth allowances.
Under her plan, welfare payments would be assessed through an independent review process to ensure a minimum standard of living, and the amounts increased if needed.
“I believe social security recipients should be able to have a standard of living that allows them to live with dignity,” she said.
“I believe the government should not be looking at welfare payments as a short-term cost, but rather as a long-term investment, particularly when directed to investment in our young people. Social security should support people who are unable to work.”
In introducing the bill, Ms McGowan took a shot at the government’s crackdown on welfare recipients.
“The recent debate around social security payments being akin to a punishment – making recipients feel ashamed, making them feel embarrassed – does not do what we want it to do,” she said.
“As independents, it’s our job to put forward solutions to problems impacting on our communities, to give an independent voice to the issues that are ignored by the major parties.”
Social Services Minister Dan Tehan responded to the MP in question time yesterday.
“The government is not going to outsource our welfare system because it is far, far too important,” he said.
“As a nation, we should be extremely proud in this place that the top 20 per cent of Australians give more to the bottom 20 per cent than any other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nation in the world.”
The minister said the government had raised pension payments and funded the National Disability Insurance Scheme, and the number of young people on welfare was at a 20-year low of 15 per cent.
“As a government we are going to continue on making sure that we focus on ensuring that the best form of welfare is a job,” Mr Tehan said.
Ms McGowan’s bill was seconded by Mayo MP Rebekha Sharkie and adjourned for further debate.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here