Jan 24, 2014

Kevin Andrews, don’t pick on the disabled and those on the dole

Hands off people on the dole and disability payments, but wind back the age pension. That's what experts told Crikey about welfare reform as the government prepares to slice and dice.

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

The Abbott government plans to crack down on disability payments and the dole, but is it targeting the wrong welfare recipients? Experts have called for the age pension — which costs almost five times as much as the dole — to be wound back first.

Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews recently flagged big changes to the welfare system via his regular bulletins in The Australian. He described the system as “unsustainable … the two big areas are Newstart and the DSP [Disability Support Pension] in terms of ensuring the viability and sustainability of welfare in the future”.

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54 thoughts on “Kevin Andrews, don’t pick on the disabled and those on the dole

  1. The Pav

    But the disabled and vulnerable are the perfect targets to fund tax cuts to rich corporations

  2. SusieQ

    Yes, target the poor and disabled, they don’t vote Liberal. Lets face it, one of the first things the government did was drop the superannuation changes for the rich – ok to exent welfare to them!

  3. Jimmyhaz

    There is absolutely nothing unsustainable about the state of our welfare currently, in fact, the payments currently made are too small, as they don’t allow recipients to meet their non-discretionary spending needs.

    I’m amazed it took less than 6 months for this government to show their true colours, they have never been about fiscal responsibility or budget surpluses, from the start they have been about cutting government spending to those they see as undeserving. They are followers of a sick and diseased ideology, and the sooner we can excise them from Australia forever, the better off we will be as a nation.

  4. MJPC


    You have said it in one. Out esteemed PM is over in Davos sprouting the lie of free trade and business unfetterd by Government regulation.
    Hold on, was’t the world almost bought to the brink in the GFC by free marketeers and lack of banking regulations, governments letting big business have a free hand?

  5. Cathy Alexander

    Interesting observations in the comments. I asked Essential to crunch some recent numbers for you which might give more insight into Coalition policy pressures re income and age. Based on their online polling in December and January:

    * the primary vote among people earning less than $600 per week (which would include people on the dole and DSP) is 33% Coalition, 42% Labor,

    * among people earning over $1600 per week, it’s 47% Coalition, 35% Labor.

    Essential also did some more work on voting by age bracket (the Newspoll results are in the article). Among the over-65’s, roughly the age at which the pension kicks in, Essential found the Coalition at 56% and Labor at 30% (primary, December to January). So the Coalition has a very high level of support among voters of pension age.

    Thought you might find this interesting.

  6. Jimmyhaz

    I’m amazed by the third of the under $600 a week group that voted coalition, it kind of reminds me of the gay hardcore republicans that I met in LA. I guess the Republican party and the LNP have something else in common, an ability to make people vote directly against their own interests.

  7. Electric Lardyland

    I don’t know, Jimmy, I suspect that quite a few Coalition voters earning under $600, would’ve probably swallowed the talkback and tabloid Kool-Aid, that their jobs have been taken by those queue jumping refugees.

  8. Jimmyhaz

    Ooft, you’re right, I totally forgot about all those cushy yet high-paying jobs being stolen by the illegal boat people. While we’re here, can you point me to the queue for these jobs? I have two skiing trips at the end of this year that aren’t going to pay for themselves.

  9. Bill Hilliger

    Some say the old age pension should be cut by 30% and supplemented by food stamps to make up the 30% cut. Just like what happens in the USA. This would cut needless and wasteful expenditure by pensioners on poker machines and tatts-lotto. Additionally to create more employment by the job creators the diesel fuel levy to miners and other extractive industries should be increased by 30% to create extra employment by being more competitive in world markets

  10. Bob the builder

    Given our economic system is predicated on a certain level of unemployment, i.e. it’s designed that way (witness the panic in the financial press when unemployment gets “too low”), surely we can treat those who are unemployed a bit better. And as for work for the dole, people on it are either displacing paid employment, hence increasing the unemployment rate, or doing meaningless work, in which case it’s purely a mean-spirited punitive scheme, punishing people for being part of a group of people (the unemployed) who are created by design.
    I think the dole should be at least doubled – it’s disgracefully low at the moment.

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