Anglicare Tasmania has called on the federal government to stop “falsely demonising jobseekers” in light of strict welfare guidelines it has introduced as part of the budget.
The government announced it would trial a system where 5000 welfare recipients will be drug-tested, and if they fail, they will be placed on an income management program.
It will introduce a demerit-point styled system to ensure that NewStart recipients attend scheduled appointments, and if three appointments are missed without a reasonable excuse, payments will be suspended.
The budget also contains a debt recovery target of more than $630 million.
Anglicare Tasmania Social Action and Research manager, Meg Webb, the welfare measures in the budget would not improve health and opportunities for those on the lowest incomes.
“No matter what issues you face, there is no evidence that being punished, impoverished and put at risk of homelessness will deliver good outcomes,” she said.
Ms Webb said in Tasmania, the reality was that there weren’t enough jobs for the state’s jobseekers.
“Those who are most marginalised and least likely to find work in this hyper-competitive job market need additional support, not punishment,” she said.
TasCOSS chief executive Kym Goodes said the budget had continued to target people who accessed Australia’s safety net.
“Measures such as demerit points and drug testing are a furthering of Tony Abbott’s lifters-vs-leaners framing, and confirmation that this government continues to play politics through divisiveness,” she said.
“Although we have finally seen the end of the so-called ‘zombie measures’, the moral judgments and rhetoric that drove them sadly remain.”
Braddon Labor MHR Justine Keay said there needed to be an appropriate balance in dealing with welfare recipients who did not meet their obligations while ensuring penalties were not overly punitive.
She said in light of the ongoing Centrelink robo-debt debacle, the new measures would need to be thoroughly analysed.
“While the Coalition has removed some of the unfair zombie measures from the 2014 budget, the retention of these cuts and the introduction of a new hit to families prove that Malcolm Turnbull’s approach to welfare is simply unfair.”