Page 4527 - Week 14 - Wednesday, 23 November 2005

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a disability who are in jobs, who have been on welfare and are now back in work, how they feel. I have asked such people, and I am sure Ms Porter knows of such people. That is why I am concerned with this motion today—that so many assumptions are being made about something that we do not really know is not going to work.

The Howard government has identified the need to make momentous and courageous changes now to the interconnected areas such as industrial relations, welfare and workplace relations. These reforms, however we view them, are a vital necessity. Change takes courage. Often, people do not like change. People are reluctant to get out of their comfort zone, to move on with life.

The prosperity of our nation relies quite heavily on three factors: population, participation and productivity. Unfortunately, I will not be supporting this motion as it does not and cannot in any way clearly articulate any real argument that can, without doubt, prove to me “the effect of proposed federal welfare reform legislation on members of the Canberra community”, that it will have the negative impact that Ms Porter talks about.

I end by saying that I do believe it is quite clear that the states and territories are failing miserably in achieving a fair go for people who want to get off welfare and into work. We seem to have this notion that giving people money and then allowing them to just live off the fat of the land forever and a day is the way people want to be. Give people the option. Give people the option to do something different with their lives. They need to do more work at the local level with the federal government. We have had a debate in this place today. Work with the federal government. We need to be sure as a territory that we meet our obligations and reduce welfare to those who do not need it, and target it instead to those who do.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (3.58): I support the motion and I want to thank Ms Porter for raising this issue in the Assembly. I regret that the opposition will probably see the debate in terms of the motion raised by Mr Mulcahy this morning, because this is an important issue that will affect the ACT. Before I begin my substantive speech, I want to quote some figures to Mrs Burke.

Mr Dutton, the federal Minister for Workforce Participation, released figures yesterday showing that nearly 10,000 people receiving the disability support pension found work in the year to September—doubling on the previous year—and that, over the same period, 35,000 people receiving the parenting payment also found jobs, which is another doubling. I think this indicates that there is not really a problem; that people who are able to do so are going out and looking for jobs. My real concern is that the welfare-to-work package is a sticks method rather than a carrots method. As you say, people are better off working. It is not that they do not want to be better off; there must be some other reason why they are not in the jobs.

At the moment, there are three major federal government society-transforming packages in front of us—the antiterror legislation, the industrial relations reforms and welfare-to-work reforms. Most of us have to prioritise where we put our energies. I think one of the areas missing out is the welfare-to-work package. We have antiterror legislation causing concern to the broad community—and this is a constituency issue—relating to human rights and other issues and the industrial relations issue has been taken

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