Tightening eligibility will hit Tasmanians hardest

TASMANIANS will suffer most if the welfare system is tightened up to punish people unable to find work, support services have warned.

The federal government yesterday announced a review of the system, headed by former Mission Australia boss Patrick McClure, to find a way to reduce the number of people dependent on government assistance.

Suggestions already put forward by Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews include removing the existing clause that allows jobseekers to keep their payments if they turn down a job that's more than 90 minutes from their home, offering incentives of $2500 and $4000 for young jobseekers who find and keep a job for one or two years respectively, and reviewing people aged under 40 on a disability support pension to see if they could do some work.

Tasmanian Chamber of Social Services chief executive Tony Reidy said Tasmania, which has the highest per-capita number of people on some form of government assistance, would be hardest hit by any changes.

Mr Reidy said the review should be conducted as part of a broader look at government spending, including tax cuts to wealthy corporations and the $4 billion paid parental leave scheme.

"The fact that successive governments over the last 15 years or so have spent the reserves accumulated from the construction and mining booms on eight successive income tax cuts should not be something that's paid for by the disadvantaged in our community," he said.

The state government has opposed the review, with Human Services Minister Rebecca White accusing the federal government of "putting dollar signs before people".

Greens human services spokeswoman Cassy O'Connor said the review was an "ominous sign".

"We know that around a third of Tasmanians are dependent on some form of Commonwealth payment, but many of those will be on a disability support payment and many others will also be working part-time as well," Ms O'Connor said.

Liberal spokeswoman Elise Archer refused to comment on the review.


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