Magazine of Socialist Action in Australia

Major parties attack migrant welfare

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A bill to cut welfare support for newly arrived migrants was agreed to by both the Liberals and Labor in December 2018. This law will force people who have recently become permanent residents to wait for up to four years to access basic welfare payments like Newstart, Youth Allowance and Austudy.

The major parties falsely claim that these changes will help migrants to become “self-sufficient”. In reality, the most likely outcome is that people who are struggling to get on their feet will be thrown into poverty and perhaps even homelessness.

In the long run, the cost of dealing with the social problems created by these cruel laws will far outweigh any saving made in the short term.

According to figures compiled by the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union, there are more than 15 job seekers competing for every job vacancy in Australia. There are nowhere near enough jobs to go around. In this context, longer wait times for welfare payments only punish the people who are victims of the jobs crisis.

Neither the Liberals nor Labor have viable plans to actually create the jobs we need. Instead they both prefer to demonise migrants.

It must be said that the Labor Party played an absolutely rotten role in passing this bill. There was widespread opposition to the changes on the Senate crossbench, meaning that if Labor had voted against it the bill would have failed to pass.

Instead they did a dirty deal with the government that saves the budget a mere $325 million per year. In the same month it was revealed that 722 big Australian companies paid no tax at all in 2016-17.

Just like the Liberals, Labor are a party that represents the interests of the super-rich. Both parties happily make cuts to welfare and social services that have huge impacts on ordinary people. At the same time, they ignore the billions of dollars of rorts carried out by big business.

Socialists demand that these changes are immediately reversed. Far from cutting payments we actually need an urgent increase of at least $250 a week to drag jobseekers out of abject poverty.

We also need a national public works program that can build the infrastructure and services we need to cater for a growing population. In addition to dealing with our social needs such a program would create hundreds of thousands of jobs.

By Triet Tran


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