ACOSS calls on crossbench to reject the Welfare ‘Reform’ Bill

19 March 2018

With new Senators just arriving to sit on the crossbench, the Federal Government is again attempting to push through its widely rejected Welfare ‘Reform’ Bill, that will cut more people off income support and increase homelessness and destitution in our community.

The Welfare ‘Reform’ Bill is before the Senate today. If passed it would cut 80,000 people off income support, delay payments to people in need, and make it more difficult to access income support if you have an addiction.

Cassandra Goldie, CEO of ACOSS says people who are already skipping meals to pay bills will hurt even more if this Bill is passed.

“The new Senators have just arrived in Canberra and are faced with a government trying to ram through a Bill containing 17 different measures that will negatively affect the lives of thousands of people across Australia, including women and their children escaping violence.

“Over the last nine months the entire community sector has spoken out about the damage this Bill would do to thousands upon thousands of people in Australia, and yet the government wants the new Senators to pass this Bill without adequate deliberation or consultation with people affected or their representatives.

“It is essential the new Senators take the time they need to fully understand the implications of these proposals.”

“This Bill introduces more social security cuts and changes that would make life tougher for people already struggling,” she said.

“This Bill would remove legislated protections for people who, because of extenuating circumstances, cannot get all the paperwork for their income support claim into Centrelink.

“This means that people in hospital, people going through a separation, or women escaping domestic violence will have to wait longer to get their Centrelink payment because it is impossible to get the paperwork together.

“This Bill would deny back-pay to people, meaning they could lose hundreds of dollars in their first payment as they wait for the department to process their claim.

“80,000 people looking for paid work, will be cut off income support under a tougher compliance regime.

“It is near impossible to look for work if you are homeless and hungry. As we saw last week, homelessness is on the rise in Australia.

“Rather than cutting the incomes of people who already have the least, the government should focus on ensuring everyone has a roof over their head and food on their tables. It should look to increasing unemployment payments, which are now so low they act as a barrier to employment.

“We do not support punishing people for the sake of punishment.”

“We call on the crossbench to reject this Bill as a matter of urgency.”

Read an ACOSS briefing note about the Welfare ‘Reform’ Bill.