Porter fails to explain Coalition's blanket welfare cuts on Q&A

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Rose Cox on Q&A (screenshot via abc.net.au)

The Coalition's new blanket welfare policies do little to help the most vulnerable, says Kathryn Wilkes

MONDAY NIGHT'S Q&A was the perfect opportunity for Christian Porter to explain the benefits of the Cashless Debit Card to the country but he appeared to dodge the whole issue.

We heard all about the power outage caused from the massive storm in SA. 

We haven't heard from the media about how the people stuck on the welfare card were denied access to cash and left hanging for the second time in three weeks. No one even asked after their welfare. How did they feed their kids?

Since many people affected by the power blackout would have been on the fringes of Ceduna, the local pub was advertising on the West Coast Sentinel Facebook page for people to come in and draw cash, while they had limited access to internet services. 

This, of course, was not an option for those on the welfare card — they lost power, most of them would have lost food from fridges going off and they had no access to cash. Was there a "code blue" for the Indigenous out in the sticks, like there was in Adelaide for all the homeless that needed shelter? We saw nothing about those 800 odd people.

Mr Porter talked a lot about the $4 trillion or so that has been forecast over forward estimates for the next 70 years, based mainly on people going onto the old age pension and living up to 110 years of age (the cut-off age of Mr Porter's data).

Let’s get real here, most people trying to survive on Centrelink payments do not have access to a full nutritional diet. The costs tend to put paid to that, especially for the youth and Newstart recipients. Most cannot afford medications and many don’t even bother going to specialists appointments as they just cannot afford it.

These people will not see 110 years of age. Scaring the public with big numbers that look forward 70 years instead of at today's deficit, since most of us won’t be here then, is only designed to gain public support for planned cuts. But we can’t let reality get in the way of a good scare campaign.

The Try, Test and Learn Fund is a pittance in comparison to the amount of money that has been cut from the support services that were in place prior to 2013. Maybe they need to create real jobs instead of paying more private contractors to run more programmes that do little to help people, as they make money from having so many clients to choose from.

An audience member Rose Cox, aged 16, told the panel her family's story, which involves Rose and her sister (aged 11) having to care full time for their disabled mother, for which she receives $8 a day from the government.

"I didn't ask for this role, I landed it at a very young age," she said. "My young carer allowance is $8 a day. I don't want to be seen as a burden on government, nor do I wish to be welfare dependent for my lifetime."

She then posed this question to Mr Porter:

"How will a blanket policy understand the very unique and often stressful experiences of young carers like myself and my sister?"

Mr Porter's response was to talk at length about data and new programmes. His "new" approach is to "encourage" Rose to go out and find a job, or get retrained to become a carer for someone else, while the public is sold the message that her $8 a day carer's allowance is too high a cost.

In Mr Porter's new scenario, a professional carer costs between $30-$45 per hour, not $8 a day. Will the Turnbull Government be rebuilding the institutions they once closed down, to force carers to work so the disabled can be placed in care facilites? Carers save the government $60 billion a year. They care for their family members without super, sick leave or a regular income. They don’t get much in the way of support, nor many days off and in some cases, they get a few allotted hours of respite care — as the government has cut so much of the support already.

All we are seeing from this Coaliton Government is complaints about the cost of the income support system, yet we hear nothing of the savings already made by massive cuts. 

We are also not hearing anything about caring for people properly. Nothing about affordable housing, protecting people from falling completely through the cracks, or of the stress and the levels of anxiety — the mental health issues of people constantly living in survival mode. 

People on welfare payments do not live, they exist to pay rent, (someone else's mortgage) electricity, buy food if they are lucky and struggle for everything else. Sole parents are treated like garbage, by the government and the mainstream media.

These people are actually trying to raise the next generation of tax payers — what a good example our media and government set for those kids when all they see is the struggle and the stress. It really sets them up for a great future when they are going to school hungry. 

At the end of the day, Mr Porter seems to be the one who is not listening. But who listens to people with zero bank balances when you have corporations bending the ears of government with profits made at the expense of tax payers.

In the Netherlands, the government funded people to set up small businesses, working from home. They eliminated business registrations and license fees and allocated funds to cover basic needs. This was done without bureaucratic paperwork. They just did it. 

The Netherlands are also experimenting (along with other countries) with a basic wage system.These are real measures, designed to create opportunities and help the economy for the long term, unlike the short-sighted endless Budget cuts of the Coalition Government.

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Porter fails to explain Coalition's blanket welfare cuts on Q&A

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