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Porter’s Plan Misses the Point

It seems extraordinary that Social Services Minister Christian Porter would unveil a $96 million plan to outsource “new, novel and brave” ways to break the cycle of welfare dependency in Australia, when in doing so, he concedes that the Government does not have the answers.

One might admire his approach as “new, novel and brave”, in admitting the matter is beyond the government’s ability to solve, but the plan to outsource the problem and ask others to fix what is essentially a failure of government, exposes the dearth of initiative within cabinet.

The minister has already identified that to solve the problem of welfare dependency one must focus on early intervention and get “at risk” groups into training or jobs. That’s not new by any measure. Patrick McClure submitted a welfare report to the then Howard government back in 1999 that first called for the initiative Porter has now resurrected.

If it’s that good, why has it taken 17 years for someone to action it? And why allocate $96 million to solve what you already know to be the problem? Why not simply outsource the training and provide the jobs? Isn’t that what you should be doing anyway?

Porter’s plan is to entice academics, state and territory governments and non-government groups to tell him how to do his job. That is a pretty serious admission of failure.

There’s no doubt stakeholders will pitch their ideas and happily take the money for their efforts, but we know what they will be offering. It will be some short term fix that simply kicks the problem further down the never-ending road of welfare dependency.

The real fix is a job guarantee. Why invest $96 million looking for answers when you could invest that in actual jobs? Every local council in Australia could employ more young people and provide on the job training if their budgets could afford it.

Every local fire brigade, ambulance, hospital, legal service and school could employ these “at risk” groups if they were subsidised by a federal government payment. Every small business would relish the opportunity to increase their workforce if not for the cost of hiring.

The government should be creating the jobs, not wasting money asking various agencies to tell them something they already know.

One of the groups identified “at risk” is carers. 11,000 carers currently receive approximately $12,000 a year. That sounds remarkable cheap compared with the cost of professional care in a hospital or nursing home. Why is this not considered to be worthwhile employment?

$96 million could employ 4000 young people for a year, get them off welfare, give them a taste of something they would enjoy doing, help them learn a skill and create the foundation for a potential career.

welfare-dependencyWhatever ideas emanate from those who respond to Porter’s suspect initiative will involve setting up new programs that might or might not work. Porter acknowledges that. Programs that don’t work will be discontinued and others tried. The expense will balloon and probably go well beyond the costs associated with a job guarantee.

A job guarantee releases everyone looking for work from welfare support. It ensures the work they engage in is worthwhile, builds confidence and restores self-esteem.

A basic job guarantee for every young person now on welfare is the answer Christian Porter is seeking. It is staring him and his government in the face and no one, it appears, can see it.

This is not a true initiative. It’s just another cost cutting exercise. Spend a little, save a lot.


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  1. Harquebus

    Just another symptom of population growth hitting the wall of diminishing returns (do more get less) for which, there is no solution. It is a one way street.

  2. Backstreet Bill

    Well surprise, surprise…the minister hasn’t got a clue. Solution – offload the problem and kill two birds with the one stone – outsource accountability (yet again), and line the pockets of your rent-seeking mates in the private sector with the government shilling. Win-win all round. Beautiful.

  3. The Faceless Man

    Of course it helps that us carers are too exhausted or occupied with their caring duties to stage a protest. This country is disgusting.

  4. Jack Straw

    All Australian companies should be banned from outsourcing to Asian countries and employ Australians here in Australian. Dah ! just a few jobs available right there. Dah !

  5. Max Gross

    So, now it’s “new, novel and brave”, on top of “jobs and growth”, as a follow up to “exciting, innovative and agile”. Do the LIEbrals have a special machine that keeps churning out vacuous three word slogans rather than workable policies?

  6. Robert Foran

    The task is not to provide everyone with a job. The task is to provide everyone with a good standard of living. We need a Universal Basic Income to provide the standard. Once people have relatively secure and comfortable living conditions, they will choose to undertake work when and where they need to, to supplement their income. This allows people to adjust their lifestyle to the level they feel most comfortable with. Such an environment would go far towards removing many of the stresses of the modern world and alleviating the desire and/or need to perform many of the more common criminal activities. I believe this can and should be done, sooner rather than later, because we are heading for trouble unless we change the way the system works.

  7. paulwalter

    Only one way to end welfare dependency, as Abbott put it and that’s to make sure there is adequate job creation. Beyond that, what will be said will be superfluous.

  8. Ian Parfrey

    Step 1 : Offshore jobs.
    Step 2 : Alter laws to prevent collective bargaining
    Step 3 : Ratchet back Social Security ( It is NOT ‘Welfare’)
    Step 4 : Privatise public assets to fund the above.

    Sound familiar?

    Welcome to the Australian IPA Government.

  9. mars08

    It’s important to note that, as far as the ruling class are concerned, the actual number of unemployed doesn’t matter. What annoys them is having to provide welfare for some of those witthout jobs.

  10. nexusxyz

    Politicians are clueless. Following the IPA agenda is dead end as is conventional economic and business thinking. You can only create ‘economic wealth’ by out ‘competing’ nations. This alone drives new industries and jobs. Anything else is a circle jerk.

  11. helvityni

    Porter’s Pointless Plan = Mal’s Jobs And Growth.

    Secret men’s business, I cry for you Australia.

  12. helvityni

    ..another thought, why are we giving THEM jobs…?

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well done, John Kelly,

    for showing up anti-CHRISTian Porter’s pathetic pretense of doing something about welfare dependency.

    I totally agree that that money needs to be directed towards job guarantee programs, and the welfare recipients themselves in funding incentives for their own micro businesses in the forms of Micro Finance Grants and/or Micro Credit Loans.

    Importantly, the money should NOT be lining the pockets of consultants or job (DIS)service providers.

  14. Matters Not

    What Robert Foran said. Currently there’s not enough jobs to go around and that trend will continue. Listened to Sandra Goldie make that very point today about the job shortage, although she believes in the myth that we can create enough jobs in the future which will somehow solve the problem. Sorry, it isn’t going to happen. And neither should it.

    Watched Landline yesterday re fine wool production and how this product was transformed 24 hours a day, (less 40 minutes for maintenance), 7 days a week, 365 days a year, into high value apparel without a worker in sight for any significant period. Are we seriously suggesting that, in this quest to create jobs, we need to become modern day ‘Luddites’ – smash the machines and the like? I think not. We need to embrace this technology because if it isn’t already here, it’s on the way. It’s inevitable.

    Having said that, there is a need to recognise that this technological future will raise many problems which should cause us to reconsider the current ‘common sense’. These days, people go to work for any number of very important reasons. First, they ‘work’ because it equates to income. The income ‘reality’ problem can’t be denied but to suggest that ‘income’ requires ‘work’ is a nonsense. For example, wealthy people have an income without ever raising an intellectual of physical sweat on a day to day basis. Second, (and this is more difficult but of great importance), people go to work for ‘social’ reasons. They enjoy the company of ‘others’. After all, ‘people’ are social beings. It is through ‘work’ that they establish who they are. Make ‘friendships’, engage in conversations, have a laugh and the odd cry or two. Other people help us to define ourselves. Going to work is (currently) important to that outcome.

    Third, humans seem to have a need to ‘externalise’ themselves through ‘creating’ things. It doesn’t really matter if it’s baking a cake, painting a picture, carving a piece of granite, writing a poem, composing a song, building a physical structure or even an argument or two. But this need to ‘externalise’ oneself doesn’t require a job, particularly when so many existing jobs these days are mind-bending. Indeed, these days so many workers have no say in what is produced and certainly have no say in the production process.

    In short, jobs can be over rated. We need better approaches in the world of the future.

  15. Harquebus

    Even if we could find another planet Earth, how long would it last?

  16. archiearchive FCD

    Speaking from an ex-carer p.o.v. – I spent 17 years caring for my wife. From 1983 to 2000, 24/7/365 because no one thought to tell us about respite care.. Receiving the Government’s ‘carers pension’, close to the then aged pension figure. At that point, in 2000, I had my obligatory nervous breakdown and a separation occurred. At that point my wife began to receive professional assistance at around 3-4 times the cost of having me as a carer. Me? I was told by Centrelink to go and join that other queue, the unemployed queue. I started receiving (for a short while) somewhat less that I had been receiving as a ‘welfare handout’ and the Government was suddenly paying around $50,000 a year to care for my wife. It would seem that that actually saves the Government money in the twisted neurons of Christian Porter’s political mind. My suggestion is that carers, caring for a family member, should find others in a similar situation and organise to quit caring for their own family member. Then apply for the job of caring for their mate’s family member . at around 3 times the cost to the Government. Porter and the rest of this Government will be relieved because the welfare payments will decrease. They will never notice sudden increase in NDIS costs.

  17. Jennifer Meyer-Smith


    if jobs are over-rated, what say you about how to keep living, breathing people fully engaged, occupied and not stagnating and growing morbidly obese with boredom?

  18. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    archiearchive FCD,

    I support your response to Porter’s pathetic pretentious Welfare proposal.

    You are such a person that THAT wanker should consult to get real life lived experience of people who rely on Welfare in its many, varied forms.

  19. keerti

    Whygive people something for nothing when you can vilify them for not taking nonexistant jobs?

  20. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Yes keerti,

    we all know that’s how Kristy Porter thinks and operates.

  21. Glenn K

    Chris Porter is “cherry-picking” information and not following through with the full story. For those who have followed his press releases and conferences over the past few days, you will note he has made reference to an actuarial approach to welfare dependency and has referenced what is being done in NZ. Interesting….. He has certainly taken the headline numbers of the cost for long term dependency – this fits in well with the LNP story, however it is only HALF THE STORY.
    Taking an actuarial approach to government services is quite groundbreaking, and there are some in Canberra who are starting to listen. Most interestingly, the NZ government is listening and acting. In very simple terms, the idea is to identify the individuals most likely to be long term dependent (via a number of commonalities) and seek to change the predicted pattern through positive intervention. It is all about numbers ($$$) but done in a very different way. You identify someone who will likely cost the government $900k over the next 25 years in social benefits; you make the decision to invest $50k or even $100k (for example) into that person up front, and then they become a net tax contributor for 23 of the next 25 years rather than a cost. So, over the long term instead of an estimated $900k cost you are looking at a $600k income to the State (through income tax payments etc). For your $50k or $100k up front investment in training, housing assistance, or whatever… you actually realise a net benefit of $1.5 million over the next 25 years!!
    This is the other half of the story Chris Porter is not sharing in his dialogue!! He hasn’t missed the point – he is just cherry picking half of the story.
    Taking an actuarial approach to Social Security actually means INCREASING up front investment in those on social benefits!! The mentioned examples of family carers is a good one, because a smart Actuary accountant would identify the long term benefits to investing more in the stay-at-home family carers and validate the net savings to the State over the longer period (20-25 years).

    Sadly, this approach I suspect is at odds with LNP ideology – though they will happily cherry -pick the identified long term costs. If our MSM actually did their job then Porter would be asked to explain the NZ reference and the Press would actually take some time to report the full story.
    In fact, probably the AFR would be the best newspaper to research on this topic – because it is very much a financial story. The AFR has already published a couple of stories on the NZ experiment. It is an approach which justifies increasing Government spending on those most in need, not decreasing it or outsourcing it to the private profit sector.
    Labor need to lift their game on this as well, because it should fit in well with their historical roots and their traditional voter base. The Greens are already on to it, but not in a loud enough way. Too much noise from the LNP about budget crisis….

  22. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well now, Glenn K,

    I don’t necessarily refute an actuarial answer to the situation of multiple people on Welfare as long as people on Welfare can particiipate in the participation process without that hefty $50k or $100k up front.

    If that actuarial system could be re-modelled to include the welfare recipients themselves, we would have a multi-dimensional solution.

  23. Matters Not

    JMS and others, what I think is necessary is a total ‘rethink’ as to how society, government and the like broadly defined, will function in the future. Let’s imagine that today, I employ 1 000 people to engage in ‘work’ that results in the production of ‘gadgets’. Employing those 1 000 people currently has business ‘costs’ that the use of technology will allow me to avoid when I don’t need those 1 000 employees and therefore increase my profits. For example, while I now have to pay wages as well as payroll tax based on the 1 000 employees, I won’t have to in the future for the obvious reason that my ‘payroll’ numbers have now been dramatically reduced. In addition, my workplace health and safety insurance will also evaporate. And so on.

    The point being that advances in technology are inevitable and they are deliberately designed to be labour displacing. And this labour displacement, apart from economic considerations, has enormous social and political implications.

    Certainly I don’t have any ‘answers’. Indeed I don’t even know what the appropriate questions are. But I suspect that if we don’t start thinking about what the ‘technological’ future holds we will be again – adrift.

  24. Glenn K

    the numbers I used in my example are exactly that – just an example. I don’t know the figures. A friend of mine has actually been engaged in consulting to the NZ government on this and he has also been to Canberra to discuss it. So far, Canberra is just listening and nothing more (yet). The main point about it however, is to show the long term (20+ yrs) benefit of investing in social service dependents to change their outcomes. This is not about giving the 19 yr old kid a job at the corner shop – but it may be funding an appropriate education and providing a liveable wage during that time – it could be wide range of other options – but all the options are much more expensive than a $53 per week increase to Newstart.
    It is why I was surprised Porter even mentioned NZ and what they are doing BECAUSE it necessarily calls for a dramatic increase in the investment in those who are dependent on social services for survival…..and we all know the LNP are all about cutting those people off at the knees and tossing them in the poverty ditch.

  25. Barbara Wittmann

    You have no jobs then you will have welfare recipients as we cannot live on fresh air. Bring back the jobs and get rid of the 457s and take a cut in pay yourselves and things should come good but NO MANAFACTURING then NO JOBS.

  26. Kyran

    Once again, we have an issue driven by ideology, manipulated by hysterical politicians and promoted by an incompetent, compliant media.
    “Porter told the Press Club the PwC report showed “we face a total estimated future lifetime welfare cost of the present Australian population of $4.8 trillion”.”

    A huge number, no doubt, but based on problematic, long term projections, subject to so many variables they are worthless.
    Out of that huge number, the genius has identified 21,970 recipients worthy of $96mil funding as a trial.

    “The PwC report identified three such groups: young carers (11,000 people), parents under 18 (4,370), and some students (6,600).”
    Michelle Grattan wrote a good piece on it.

    The issue of the government constantly using one of the big 4 accounting firms for modelling is worth scrutiny in its own right. Why would you enlist the services of a firm whose very existence is duplicitous? They have now been ‘running with the hare and hunting with the hound’ for so long, nobody can be certain which ‘pack’ they are representing.

    That the entire scheme is being based on something out of NZ is worth note. Imagine if we based our NBN policy on what our cousins across the ditch were doing?

    Our NBN’ is another issue driven by ideology, manipulated by hysterical politicians, unquestioned by an incompetent media and protected by a compliant AFP.

    With regard to that ‘Jobson Grothe’ thingy, imagine if we embraced ‘new, novel and brave’ thinking to reinvigorate our manufacturing industry? There has been much written on 3D printing. It has the potential to address some of the most critical of Australia’s problems. We are a small population of 24mil people on a huge island/continent. 3D printing reverses basic premises of mass production and economies of scale. The Ford motor company has used 3D printing in their production process to enable them get commercial viability for production runs of less than 10,000 vehicles. 3D printing is used extensively in aeronautics, medicine, etcetera. It reduces R&D costs significantly, as well as storage and distribution issues.
    Some articles have even ventured that it will completely disrupt the problems of competing with costs of production in countries where the labour rate is abysmally low.
    If we had an innovative, agile government they would be looking at transitioning to that kind of thinking. Naturally, they would have to tackle the NBN problem.
    There is much that can be done. The last three years have demonstrated little more than we have a government both driven and blinded by ideology. Trying to apply any reasoned thought to their resultant shortcomings is little more than an exercise in futility.
    “It is staring him and his government in the face and no one, it appears, can see it.”
    Perhaps if they were looking through a window, instead of constantly looking in a mirror, they could see more?
    Thank you Mr Kelly. Take care

  27. Matters Not

    The issue of the government constantly using one of the big 4 accounting firms for modelling is worth scrutiny in its own right.

    That’s just been done.

    The numbers are staggering. The Big Four accounting firms have picked up at least $2.6 billion in fees from the Australian government over the past ten years.

    Last Tuesday before the National Press Club, the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, unveiled a PwC report which put Australia’s “future lifetime welfare cost” at $4.8 trillion. No matter they confected the highest number they possibly could to scare the daylights out of people, when it came to those dastardly welfare bludgers, the die had been cast.

    They have joined the ‘leaners’ big time.

    When it comes to leaners look no further than PwC itself which has picked up $759,736,134.06 over the past ten years from the Commonwealth; almost $760 million in taxpayer money for doing reports – providing advice, paper shuffling.

    Let’s not forget Ernst & Young, which banked $525,064,685.80 for writing stuff, and Deloitte with its $415,773,994.86, the lowest of the Big Four leaners but nonetheless a leaner par excellence.

    It is KPMG though which takes first prize in the corporate welfare stakes, strapping on $934,351,772.48 of the taxpayer’s finest, clipping almost $100 million a year, leaning like a test rugby pack.

    Dear oh dear. When they take a break from the tax avoidance business they bill government for the left overs.

    PwC gives bludgers a lesson in corporate welfare

  28. Kyran

    Indeed, Matters Not, Your link includes reference to George Rozvany, who has been on the war path for a while.

    “At least $US1 trillion in tax revenue is lost worldwide, and $50 billion in Australia, as a result of aggressive tax minimisation schemes established by the four giant firms who audit the books of nearly all the world’s major companies, said George Rozvany, a 32-year veteran of the corporate tax industry.

    “And I’m a conservative man, I think the figure is actually much higher,” he told the ABC.

    “It’s very clear to me that the big four accounting firms are the masterminds of international tax avoidance.

    “They work with government to deliver what they want for their clients. It’s not set in a social context; it’s designed to deliver an outcome for their clients.” ”

    The ultimate ignominy is that our ‘government’ constantly asks one of the big 4 to advise it on all manner of policy and provide modelling, without ever questioning their blatantly obvious conflict of interest. Having once thought the need for a federal ICAC was a ‘no brainer’, it seems now to be akin to applying a band aid to an amputation. The ‘rules’ have now been rendered useless, with only the loopholes remaining. Instead of applying the doctrine of the separation of powers, the new world order requires we adopt the doctrine of the ‘three wise monkeys’, subject only to the scrutiny of the three blind mice.
    Do you know if good government has started yet? If the adults are in charge yet?
    Take care

  29. Kyran

    Thanks for that, Matters Not. It did not assist with my malaise.
    It did, however, assist with a new definition for ‘ambition’.
    Rozvany is writing a series of books on corporate tax ethics.
    Take care

  30. Matters Not

    Rozvany is writing a series of books on corporate tax ethics.

    a series of books? I doubt there would be enough for even one thin publication let alone a series. On the other hand, if he is writing about unethical behaviors …. He could fill a library.

  31. Kyran

    Lol, Matters Not. Was that sarcasm or incredulity?
    “I doubt there would be enough for even one thin publication let alone a series.”
    There was a time when such tome’s were properly referred to as ‘comics’.
    It seems entirely incongruous to suggest that a library is a repository of the written words of so many (those words being worth keeping), necessarily requiring bookshelves. And yet, the most famous bookshelves in Australia are those adorning the library of one of the paragons of unethical behaviour.
    We need to embrace change.
    The most urgent change this country needs to embrace is that of the 45th government.
    Take care

  32. Pingback: Porter’s Plan Misses the Point | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

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