You may not have heard of the woman that some describe as Australia’s answer to Margaret Thatcher. But she is busy trying to remedy that.
Appointing Anne Ruston as Families and Social Services Minister is up there with the sickest of cruel jokes.
At a forum with single mothers discussing being pushed into poverty, Senator Ruston dismissed the idea of raising Newstart in the most callous of ways.
“We can’t just keep on adding money to this bucket, because we’re not making a difference,” she said. “Giving (people) more money would do absolutely nothing … probably all it would do is give drug dealers more money and give pubs more money.”
“We’ve got to be fair to the people who pay for it.”
Holy shit, Batman. Did she not realise who she was talking to?
She had just heard from single mothers who are forced onto Newstart when their child turns 8. This not only reduces their weekly payment significantly, it also more than halves the threshold amount that they are allowed to earn without affecting their payment – a perverse disincentive to working part-time.
She had also been told of Family Benefit payments being reduced by Centrelink because of child support that hadn’t been received. No empathy there either.
“The debt belongs to your partner,” she said. “Let’s hold him responsible.”
Older people get no sympathy either. Ruston said that the Age Pension is already “generous” and suggests pensioners should be grateful for taxpayers’ largesse.
So it comes as no surprise that this woman now wants to extend the cashless welfare card universally. She’s that type of gal.
After working with the big four banks and Coles and Woolworths – and we all know how altruistic their advice is – Senator Ruston has decided on a national rollout.
“It does need to have a broader application than perhaps the social harm reduction that the original policy was designed on.”
Hilariously, she now describes this draconian imposition as “a mainstream financial literacy tool” which will allow “recipients to budget for their rent and food while saving for the future.”
Saving for their future? On less than $40 a day?
It will be wonderful, the Senator reckons.
“It gives people the ability to be able to budget. You can use the card to make sure you prepay your rent, you prepay your car payment. In a community, you can send money to the local community store so that kids can go in and buy their lunch or their breakfast or fruit for morning tea, so there are some really practical, on the ground financial and budgeting benefits and we’re already seeing them happen.”
I don’t know if Senator Ruston has kids but, in my experience, sending them to the shop to get themselves some lunch that they don’t have to pay for would rarely result in the purchase of anything nutritious.
It will also make it much easier to impose the plan outlined in the 2018 budget to deduct up to 15 per cent of welfare payments for recipients with unpaid court fines – supposedly to help people “stay out of jail”.
The ridiculous line being peddled by the Morrison government that the best form of welfare is a job was dealt with superbly on the Shaun Micaleff show.
“Welfare is what you get when you don’t have a job. It’s the complete opposite of a job. The best form of something can’t be the opposite of it, you’re conflating two things that don’t coexist.”
It also ignores the fact that changes to the Disability Support Pension forced many people onto Newstart so, these days, 42 per cent of Newstart recipients have an illness or disability preventing them from working full-time – up from 25 per cent in 2014. Many of these are older people, an added consequence of continuing to increase the age at which they can access the aged pension. Try getting a job that doesn’t require specific qualifications when you are in your sixties. The only thing open to you is crossing supervisor, or politics and the insiders have that sewn up.
When you hear that 99% of welfare recipients get extra payments, for many, that is just the energy supplement ($4.40/week) that the government tried to remove.
Oh, and did I mention the constant calls for drug testing?
The government needs people to get off social security payments so they can pay for their political pork-barrelling and promotional videos and tv advertising.
So they are going to shame you, and attack you, and demean you, and remove your control over your own life, until you give up.
Anne, you are making Maggie look like a bleeding-heart socialist.
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