Another round of lies from the Greens is making its way around social media and very vulnerable people on Social Security are very, very angry – at Labor. If you are a vulnerable Australian on welfare listening to the Greens, let me say this to you; Labor is not anti-welfare and Labor is fighting very hard for equality. What the Greens are fighting hard for is putting up bills they know will fail on a technicality. They then work hard to take the moral high ground to upset you, all for the sole aim of creating a deep dark pit of hatred toward Labor by you, the voter. They do this in the hope you will see the Greens as the only party who cares. In short, it is pathetic Trump Style politics.
One thing Senator Doug Cameron is, is he is a good man. He has spent his entire life fighting for the working class and the disadvantaged and that cannot be disputed. I have cut and paste Senator Cameron’s response to the Greens amendment in the Senate to raise Newstart by $110 per fortnight.
It is time the Greens stopped playing pathetic games with the emotions of vulnerable people. It is sick! The incessant attacks on Labor are questionable. They may as well stick a Turnbull corflute in their front yards!
Senate Hansard 10 August 2017 p. 76-78
(For those who do not want to read all of Senator Cameron’s response which is over 2,000 words, I have highlighted the relevant parts in Red. I have quoted and highlighted the trickery of the Greens in – well Green!)
Senator CAMERON (New South Wales) (16:59): I am quite amazed by that speech by Senator Fierravanti-Wells. In speaking on the Social Security Amendment (Caring for People on Newstart) Bill 2017, I want to try and correct some of the statements that have been made.
Let me go to the Greens first. The Greens indicated they are the only party calling for an increase in Newstart. Labor has acknowledged that Newstart is too low. The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has said on a number of occasions in recent years that it is too low. Labor acknowledges that too many Australians are living in poverty.
It was Labor that defended young, unemployed Australians when the Abbott-Turnbull government wanted to make young people wait six months to access Newstart.
Senator Fierravanti-Wells said, ‘Don’t add fuel to the fire.’ There’ll be plenty of people on Newstart who won’t have any fuel—whether it’s electricity or gas—to actually keep themselves warm. Senator Fierravanti-Wells says it would cost an extra $2 billion per annum to increase the Newstart allowance to the allowance that’s been proposed by the Greens in this bill. How ridiculous is it that we have a coalition that want to hand $65 billion in tax cuts to the big end of town, and yet they stand here and argue that they can’t look after people on Newstart? They are a party that wants to look after big business but ignore people who are doing it tough. We’ve seen them: they’re all about the vilification and demonisation of people who are down on their luck and relying on Newstart. This argument of, ‘You’ve just got to get a job and everything will be okay,’ I suppose, is alright if you live on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, the eastern suburbs or the wealthier areas of Australia where you don’t actually have to see much unemployment.
But what the coalition needs to understand—and they obviously don’t—is that there are 189,200 jobs available within Australia. There are 726,800 unemployed in Australia. So it’s not as if you can just get your gear on in the morning, lob out there and find a job. You never hear the coalition talking about that figure. It’s not easy to get a job in some areas, and it’s impossible to find a job in other areas. I notice that we’re going to have coalition people speak to this later, and we have two National Party members in the chamber now. If you look at the National Party seats, they’ve got some of the highest unemployment in Australia. Senator Williams would know it’s not that easy to go out and actually find a job in some areas in National Party electorates.
In National Party seats, unemployment has risen by 1.3 per cent on average since the coalition came to power. Since September 2013, unemployment has risen by 1.3 per cent on average in National Party seats. What a great example of how the National Party come here and suck up to that nonsense that we just heard from Senator Fierravanti-Wells, but are out there presiding over some of the highest unemployment in the country. It just beggars belief. All they want to do is vilify the unemployed, vilify those that are down on their luck. Look at what the government did when they first came to power.
They wanted to make young Australians wait six months to access Newstart. What would that do to young people in National Party seats where there were no jobs? They would either have to have rich parents or be part of the rural hoi polloi, or they would be left starving. It’s an absolute disgrace the way the National Party and the Liberal Party have dealt with unemployment and social security benefits over the last period of time. They wanted to abandon young jobseekers for six months. Starve! That was their approach, and Labor defeated that. After we defeated it, the Liberals tried to make young people wait five weeks before being able to access income support.
Remember the argument that was put forward by Senator Fierravanti-Wells: ‘Just go out and get a job. That’s the best inoculation from welfare. Just get a job.’ Well, I repeat again: there are 189,200 jobs available in Australia, and there are 726,800 unemployed. Many of those unemployed would not have the skills, the training or the capacity or live in the region where these jobs are, so it becomes really, really difficult. Senator Fierravanti-Wells ran the same nonsense that ‘Labor squandered money when they were in government’. What Labor did was to implement one of the most effective—if not the most effective—approaches to dealing with the global financial crisis that we had, and we kept jobs being created around the country. That’s what Labor did because we understood that, if jobs were lost, then intergenerational unemployment would increase. So we spent money on keeping people in jobs—in National Party seats around the country. Not only were individuals looked after by Labor, but communities were looked after and families were looked after. They had jobs when workers around the world were being thrown on the scrap heap.
But those opposite seem to forget that there was a global financial crisis. They forget that, just as they don’t have any idea or don’t want to recognise that there is global warming and a real problem for the future. They don’t want to recognise that they don’t have the policies and they don’t have the cohesion internally to actually deal with any of the problems that are facing Australians around this country.
So Labor defeated those cuts that were put there. We defeated the unfair Liberal and National Party cuts to paid parental leave. We defeated the Liberal and National Party unfair cuts to pension indexation. This is the mob that wanted to cut the pensions of Australians. That’s what they wanted to do, and it was only Labor standing against it that stopped that. We defeated the Liberals’ unfair GP tax that would have undermined Medicare as our universal health system. We defeated the Liberals and Nationals’ unfair cuts to young people that would have seen thousands of young Australians shifted from Newstart onto the lower youth allowance payment. We have consistently stood up for vulnerable Australians against this government’s unfair cuts.
I just find it beggaring belief that the National Party, who represent the victims of the Liberal Party’s ideology, come in here and vote with them to cut the social security payments for their constituents in their seats around the country when there are not the jobs available in National Party seats around the country. The National Party are an absolute disgrace. They just hang off the coat-tails of the Liberal Party, and then they try and run the Liberal Party when it comes to some ideological approach that they want to push. They are an absolute disgrace.
We have led the debate in this country on inequality. Bill Shorten, Wayne Swan, Jenny Macklin and Andrew Leigh have all been doing important policy work on the issue of inequality. Inequality isn’t just the gap between the rich and poor; it’s about the millionaires getting tax cuts under this government and large multinationals getting $65 billion in giveaways, while millions of Australians have had no wage rise for years. It’s about inequality in the housing market because first home buyers are lining up against property investors who have been subsidised by unfair and distortionary policies like negative gearing.
It’s about the gender gap in the pay that men and women in this country receive and the unfair deal that women are getting. It’s about the gap between Indigenous Australians and the unfair outcomes they’re getting in health, education and housing. And any conversation about inequality also has to focus on poverty. We know that Newstart is too low. We know that too many Australians are living below the poverty line.
As last year’s Growing together, Labor’s agenda for tackling inequality, document stated: The net replacement rate for the Newstart payment for a single person is equivalent to just 28 per cent of the average wage. That compares with an average of 47 per cent in other major English-speaking nations, such as Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. While the mechanisms for supporting the unemployed differ in each of these countries, there is no denying that income support for unemployed Australians is very low by international standards. We are doing the policy work.
That’s why at the last election Labor said that we’d establish a review into the adequacy of the Newstart allowance for people of working age and their place in the wider system of working age payments and employment supports. We won’t be coming here when there’s not enough jobs for every Australian that’s looking for them and tell them, ‘The best thing you can do is get out and find a job.’
It’s an absolute lie, perpetrated by the extremists in the Liberal and National parties who are presiding over some of the lowest paid in their electorates, and some of the worst unemployment and some of the worst housing conditions in the country. So much for the National Party and so much for the Liberal Party!
We’ve have said that, when we do the review, we’ll look at the adequacy of the base rate of Newstart to meet what is widely understood to be the essential living costs required to achieve a reasonable minimum standard of living. We will look at the adequacy of the current indexation of allowance payments in the context of indexation arrangements across the social security system.
We’ll look at the role of the Newstart allowance and other working age payments in promoting and supporting workforce participation, including through smooth transitions to paid employment, help with the cost of job search, training and employment. Labor wants a comprehensive and independent review into the adequacy of Newstart that we think should be done against two primary objectives: one, alleviating poverty and, two, encouraging work.
We also believe that the review should consider the adequacy of Newstart for people raising families, particularly single parents.
I’d dearly love to see an increase to Newstart, but this bill isn’t the right way of going about it.
Let’s be clear: it’s a stunt by the Greens political party. It’s symbolic. It won’t pass the parliament. The Greens know that this would never get through the House of Representatives. The Greens know that the appropriations bills in the House have to be introduced by a minister. Yet they introduce this bill in the Senate and give so many Australians false hope that Newstart might be increased—and it’s all for their own political purposes. (Senator Doug Cameron 10.08.2017)
It’s worth noting that this bill has come on for debate on the same day it was introduced into the Senate. It’s not a fair dinkum proposal and the Greens know it. They haven’t done the proper policy work. They haven’t done the hard work of policy development that you need to make this kind of change. They haven’t even discussed it with the opposition before springing it on us today.
Unlike the Greens party, the opposition requires proposals to be properly developed, costed and considered before we can support them.
The truth is, if you want to see an increase to Newstart, you have to change the government in Canberra. You have to vote out the Liberals, because they will never help the vulnerable.* They’ve never helped the unemployed. The last time there was a significant increase to social security payments, it was done by a Labor government.
(*That means voting for Labor, the only party that can remove the Liberals and actually Govern to enact change – Trish)
In 2009 it was Labor that increased the age pension and the disability support pension by $30 a week—the largest increase to the pension in its history. And you know how that came about? The newly elected Labor government commissioned the Harmer review into the adequacy of the pension.
A proper policy process was undertaken, there was consultation with key stakeholders, and we increased the age pension and DSP. It was announced in the budget and paid for in the budget. The pension was increased by $30 a week and, as a result, one million Australians were lifted out of poverty. That’s how you bring about change.
That’s how you lift people out of poverty. It didn’t happen because of a stunt in the Senate from a minor party like the Greens. It happened because a Labor government was in office and able to bring about change. Labor can actually bring about change, not just talk about it like the Greens.