People under 30 on the north coast will live in poverty if they’re forced to wait six months for the dole under the federal government’s controversial Newstart changes, according to Richmond MP Justine Elliot.
The Labor MP went on the attack today against the National’s Page MP Kevin Hogan for supporting what she describes as ‘probably one of the meanest and harshest measures’ the coalition government had launched on the unemployed.
Mr Hogan told media that his colleague, social services minister Scott Morrison, was open to hearing locals’ concerns about the change, but Mrs Elliot accused him of using ‘weasel words’ because he had ‘constantly voted for the cruel and unfair measures’.
‘It’s a cynical effort by Mr Hogan to hide the fact that he voted for these extremely unfair and cruel measures,’ Mrs Elliot said.
‘Making people wait six months for the dole will mean people under 30 will live in dire poverty. The fact is, no matter what Kevin Hogan says, he is responsible for it,’ she said.
The Newstart changes and other budget measures have stalled in the Senate, but the Abbott government is pushing ahead with it.
‘Mr Hogan tells the electorate one thing then walks into parliament and votes for these new harsh measures,’ Mrs Elliot told Echonetdaily.
’The fact is the Nationals, including Mr Hogan, are part of the government that wants to bring these cruel budget measures in, such as the GP tax, the petrol tax, $100,000 university degrees etc.
‘Cutting out people from Newstart for six months will see people living in dire circumstances.
‘Lots of people here on the north coast have no resources or family living close by to help them so it’s one of the cruellest and harshest measures of this government.’
While not stating how he voted on the issue, Mr Hogan told Echonetdaily he supports ‘the premise of earn or learn’.
Mr Hogan supported the budget, of which these measures were a part.
‘We must offer hope to young people and not be satisfied with entrenching intergenerational welfare dependence,’ he said.
‘There are numerous safety nets under the current proposal for a six-month wait for Newstart, such as if someone is moving onto Newstart from the Youth Allowance, there is no wait. Also the wait period is reduced depending on past employment.
‘The new minister for social services [Scott Morrison] has publicly said he is happy to consult about the changes to Newstart, so I am talking to him about ensuring there is enough flexibility within the system,’ Mr Hogan said.