No jab, no pay: Labor cautious about Government proposal to link more obligations to welfare
21st September 2016
Labor is yet to confirm whether it will back the Government’s proposed extension of the mutual obligation concept used in the “no jab, no pay” policy to other areas of welfare, despite warning the Coalition against funding cuts.
- Social Services Minister says policy of mutual obligation is “utterly outstanding”
- St Vincent de Paul Society CEO says it is an “old, tried and tired measure”
- Shorten warns against “going after the poorest in our community”
Social Services Minister Christian Porter told the National Press Club yesterday the policy of mutual obligation was “utterly outstanding” and an expansion was worth exploring.
Mr Porter floated the idea of linking school attendance to welfare payments, something which St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive John Falzon criticised.
Dr Falzon told the ABC that it was an “old, tried and tired measure”.
“It’s just another iteration of taking a stick to the backs of people who have been pushed to the edges,” he said.
“It’s very disappointing to see this being dressed up as something new and innovative … It’s very disappointing that the starting point for this so-called welfare revolution is to cut out a level of social expenditure.”
Questioned about the issue today, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told reporters Labor would examine any proposals to extend the concept “carefully and constructively”.
He warned against cutting payments for recipients.
“We’re up for a discussion about how you break the cycle of poverty,” he said.
“But some of the ways in which you break the cycle of poverty don’t involve going after the poorest in our community and cutting their funding,” he said.
In his address to the National Press Club, Mr Porter said the mutual obligation idea rule could be extended to:
- Refraining from excessive alcohol or from illicit drug use, where evidence clearly shows it creates barriers to employment;
- Turning up to key work appointments in a timely manner;
- Paying debts owed to the taxpayer; and
- Ensuring children attend school.
“The reason why the no jab, no pay policy worked so well was because it was designed to within an inch of its life — it was really, really thoroughly assessed,” Mr Porter said.
“What I am proposing simply is that there are other areas where if you had the same stringency of design, it’s quite possible that you could have also very good results.”