Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Australian Federal Election 2016: Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's mother of all wars on the poor

If there was any doubt left that Prime Minster Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, who has been a millionaire for the last thirty-three years, is that classic form of well-heeled Liberal Party politician who believes that being poor and/or poorly educated is the personal fault of all individuals in those situations, then this report in New Matilda on 5 March 2016 should lay those doubts to rest:

Unemployed and underemployed Australians can be issued with on-the-spot fines by privately owned job agencies under a tough new Government proposal, writes Owen Bennett.
Later this month the Turnbull Government will be asking the Senate to support one of the most devastating attacks launched against poor and vulnerable Australians in recent memory.

The Bill – entitled Social Security Legislation Amendment (Further Strengthening Job Seeker Compliance) Bill 2015 – proposes to give privately run job agencies unprecedented new powers to financially penalise unemployed and underemployed Australians. If passed, the fines will come into effect on July 1 this year.

Under the proposal, Australians receiving the dole can be fined 10 per cent of their income support – increasing by 10 per cent each day until they ‘re-engage’ – if they:

* Fail to sign a job plan at their first job agency appointment; or
* Are found by their job agency to have behaved inappropriately at an appointment (“inappropriate behaviour” is defined as acting in a manner “such that the purpose of the appointment is not achieved”); or
* Fail to attend a Work for the Dole or Training exercise without an excuse deemed reasonable by the job agency.

All fines (roughly $55) will be deducted immediately. Unemployed Australians who feel they have been unfairly fined will be required to go through Centrelink’s arduous appeals process to get their money back – a procedure that can take up to four months.

This means that even if an unemployed worker successfully appeals against a fine – and thousands do every year – they will still be forced to endure up to four months without a significant portion of their income support.

As privately run job agencies can effectively impose these financial penalties on unemployed workers before having to provide any concrete proof, the Coalition’s proposal gives privately-owned job agencies the power of life and death over unemployed workers.

With the dole already $391 below the poverty line according to the Melbourne Institute, for many unemployed workers a 10 per cent deduction of their income support will place them in severe financial distress.

If this proposal is passed next month, unemployed Australians will be just one unfair penalty away from extreme poverty and even homelessness.….

Here is the Turnbull Government official spin on this bill, circulated by authority of the then Assistant Minister for Employment, Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker.

Turnbull & Co expect to remove up to a total of $24.5 million from the pockets of the unemployed over the next three and a half years using the provisions in this bill.

No comments: