Marlene Hodder 5-2-10
Marlene Hodder, Intervention Rollback Action Group - 5 February 2010
I have just witnessed FaHCSIA staff present their case to the Senate Inquiry into the proposed Social Security amendment legislation in Canberra. I am shocked that obviously high up bureaucrats can speak with such expertness on the justification for imposing such measures initially on all people (mainly Aboriginal) in the Northern Territory and possibly eventually on other 'disadvantaged' areas around the country, as the minister deems fit.
Last night I received a copy of an email emanating from Macklin's office calling far and wide for people to appeal to members of the Opposition and the Greens to support the new legislation so that the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act will not be delayed.
This is hypocritical, to say the least, and dishonest at best. The Minister could reinstate the RDA immediately and keep the promise she made prior to the 2008 election.
I am appealing to all people to write to their local newspaper or contact their local Federal member and/or Senator to express their concern at this drastic change in social security in this country. Social security is a human right and the government is contravening its own social inclusion policy by imposing such punitive measures on impoverished and disadvantaged people.
I hope you are able to take the time to consider this.
I have attached a short document on the issue.
Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform and Reinstatement of Racial Discrimination Act) Bill 2009.
With best wishes
MACKLIN'S LATEST MANOEVRES
The Australian Parliament is due to debate the new social security legislation next week. Senate Committee Inquiry hearings will also be held around the country in the next few weeks.
Many people are unaware of the implications of the new legislation which will give the Minister powers to declare any area ‘disadvantaged' and any person ‘vulnerable' which will trigger income quarantining for many categories of people receiving income support from Centrelink. This is a major policy shift on the part of the Labor Government and sees the most disadvantaged in our community having their lives made more difficult by with control over their income being taken away.
Even people in the so-called ‘disadvantaged' areas who might be fulfilling their job search requirements would be subject to having their social security income quarantined. This is hardly fair on people who live in areas of low employment prospects.
The government should using the $350m due to be spent on introducing this system over the next two years to instead support disadvantaged people by providing more jobs, infrastructure and social services.
Minister Macklin's office is currently running a public campaign, asking the community to call on the Opposition and the Greens to allow passage of the new social security legislation and, therefore, reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act.
This is farcical. The government could immediately reintroduce the Racial Discrimination Act which would immensely improve the lives of over 15,000 Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory currently suffering from racial discrimination. Labor promised prior to the last election that they would do this. It is unethical to impose such a punitive system on people at the bottom of the socio-economic scale in order to continue the racist elements of the Northern Territory Intervention.
The general public needs to be aware what this new legislation will mean and to voice their objections in the strongest way possible.
Reproduced with the kind permission of Marlene Hodder.