This week in parliament saw the release of a damning Senate Inquiry report on the Centrelink robodebt debacle and the introduction of several pieces of legislation that will cut social security.
We also saw the welcome protection of the Disability Support Pension for people with addiction.
“ACOSS welcomes the Senate Inquiry report into the flawed robodebt program and calls on government to adopt its 21 recommendations without delay”, says ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.
“The Turnbull Government must abandon the robodebt program.
“The report presented irrefutable evidence of the need to stop the robodebt program because of the extensive harm it continues to cause.
“Robodebt has treated hundreds of thousands of people like second-class citizens. We congratulate the Committee on its hard work in uncovering the systemic problems of this deeply unfair system of debt recovery.
“We also applaud those who told their story. Considering the real threat of being targeted by the government, it took great courage to come forward and explain the personal impact of robodebt.”
Disability Support Pension
There was some good news this week with Parliament rejecting the government’s proposal to deny people with a serious addiction access to the Disability Support Pension.
“We congratulate the Greens, Labor, the Nick Xenophon Team, Jacqui Lambie and Derryn Hinch on their work to protect ‘Impairment Table 6’, allowing people with addiction to continue to have access to a pension,” says Dr Goldie.
“If someone has an ongoing limited capacity to work, regardless of whether they have an addiction or not, they should have access to the pension.”
Social security legislation
“Unfortunately, the government continues to demonise people receiving income support,” says Dr Goldie.
“This week the government introduced a suite of legislation that paints people on low incomes as criminals and stands to reduce already meagre incomes even further.
“Legislation introduced includes drug testing people who are unemployed, denying people income support for up to six months if they have a certain level of liquid assets, and cutting people’s payments if they fail to attend employment service appointments without a ‘reasonable excuse’.
“Our government has a choice. At the moment it is choosing to increase inequality in Australia by cutting the payments of people on the lowest incomes. There is a better choice. Government can choose to work to eradicate poverty and make our society more equal, and one way to do this is by strengthening our social safety net.
“Every person in Australia has a right to a fair and adequate social security system.
“Ensuring social security payments are adequate for every person who needs a lift up, and reforming debt recovery of Centrelink overpayments in line with the Senate Inquiry report’s recommendations will help achieve this.”