Wednesday, 20 November 2013

RORT ALERT! Gaming the system allegations made against disability support pensioners

Hot on the heels of Assistant Employment Minister Luke Hartsuyker’s attempt to demonise people on unemployment benefits, we now have Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews and Human Services Minister Marise Payne apparently suggesting that an unidentified number of individuals on the disability support pension may be fraudsters or criminals gaming the system.

Rather conveniently the Murdoch media managed to obtain an ‘exclusive’ copy of what it likes to call the Government's 2013 disability support pension report with which to bolster quotes from ministers Andrews and Payne it included in its 17 November 2013 article Federal Government has welfare rorts in sights as eligibility tightened.

The article talks of a 22 per cent increase in 10 years of the number of people on disability support pensions, but conveniently neglects to point out that the number of pension recipients has dropped, from 831,908 in December 2011 to 824,082 in February 2013 and since 2010 the rate at which the pension has been granted has fallen from 63.3 per cent of applicants to 42.4 per centfacts it was quoting in May this year before the federal election and change of government shifted the emphasis to overtly hostile.

The journalist bellowing welfare wastelands neglected to mention that only 20 per cent of all people thought to be living with some form of disability actually receive a government payment/pension and, that 18.6 per cent of all those on a disability support pension only receive part-payment - many because they have some form of regular work.

The journalist also forgot to mention that 2.6 million Australians provide 24hr a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, unpaid care for partners/family members with a disability [FaHCSIA Annual Report 2012-13].

One has to suspect that the real reason the Abbott Government is being so negative with regard to unemployment and disability is because within the next two years it intends that people in these two government cash transfer categories will be compulsorily placed on the income management scheme which sees at least 50% of a person’s pension and benefits quarantined in a digital version of food stamps, the Basics Card.

Given that historically 20 per cent of recipients are likely to exit the disability support pension each year because they die, that will potentially leave Abbott and Hockey with an unspecified amount of quarantined money remaining in notional accounts administered by the Dept. of Social Services. 

If these two right-wing politicians are quick off the mark they should be able to grab around $60 million annually from the the disabled dead when they proceed with their vaguely foreshadowed amendments to legislation covering social security, disability and income management.

And that's the point of this whole mainstream media exercise isn't it - to soften the general public into uncomplainingly accepting that the Abbott Government intends to make the poor (both living and actively dying) pay for tax cuts/concessions promised to those comfortably off and downright wealthy voters.

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