McGowan asks for gov­ern­ment to sup­port Bill to fix ‘bro­ken’ sys­tem

Myrtleford Times - - News -

CATHY McGowan (MHR, Indi) has called on the gov­ern­ment to sup­port pro­posed leg­is­la­tion to es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent So­cial Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion.

Ms McGowan in­tro­duced the So­cial Se­cu­rity Com­mis­sion Bill 2018 on Mon­day which would es­tab­lish an in­de­pen­dent body to as­sess so­cial wel­fare pay­ments and pre­vent re­cip­i­ents from fall­ing be­low the poverty line.

The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion is sup­ported by the Aus­tralian Council of So­cial Ser­vice, Catholic So­cial Ser­vices Aus­tralia, Unit­ing Care Aus­tralia, Angli­care Aus­tralia and sev­eral Indi-based groups.

Re­spon­dents to Ms McGowan’s 2018 Indi Bud­get Sur­vey listed so­cial wel­fare among their top five con­cerns.

Dur­ing Ques­tion Time, Ms McGowan asked the Min­is­ter for So­cial Ser­vices Dan Te­han, if the gov­ern­ment would sup­port the Bill to which he said they are not go­ing to out­source the coun­try’s wel­fare sys­tem.

“The Gov­ern­ment may not be pre­pared to act, but here we have sup­port from wel­fare groups for the Com­mis­sion,” Ms McGowan said.

“The rate of New­start has not in­creased in real terms for 24 years.

“The max­i­mum weekly pay­ment a sin­gle per­son on New­start can re­ceive is $345, in­clud­ing al­lowances such as Rent As­sis­tance and the $4.40 En­ergy Sup­ple­ment ev­ery­one on New­start re­ceives.

“This is well be­low the $433 fig­ure to cover the ba­sic costs of liv­ing per week.

In the Indi sur­vey 24 per cent of re­spon­dents ranked so­cial ser­vices as one of their top three is­sues and 80 per cent rated so­cial ser­vices as ei­ther very im- por­tant or fairly im­por­tant.

“My of­fice reg­u­larly hears from con­stituents who find the rates of so­cial wel­fare do not meet the costs of trans­port to em­ploy­ment in­ter­views or costs of em­ploy­ment re­lated goods,” Ms McGowan said.

“We also hear from peo­ple who are strug­gling to pay bills or buy food.”

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