Greens reject discriminatory work for the dole plans

The Australian Greens have rejected a discriminatory Government plan to make different rules for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in remote communities in order to access income support.

"The Government has waited until after Parliament has finished for the year to announce their plans to force people in remote communities to undertake work for the dole for 12 months a year in order to receive income support," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

"The Government is once again ignoring the underlying factors that are contributing to unemployment. It is unjustifiable that this scheme would be so much tougher in remote communities compared to the rest of the country.

"The Minister has admitted that there are 'a lot less jobs available in remote communities'. Work for the dole doesn't address that problem.

"The prospect of people working 25 hours a week for Newstart means they will be working for insignificant wages. This is an incredibly punitive and discriminatory approach, especially when you consider it is likely be paired with the roll-out of a healthy welfare card.

"Successive governments cut and reduced CDEP, a program that worked for many communities. People received top up wages and considered they had real jobs. Since stopping that program, many people have felt demoralised about losing those jobs. Work for the dole is a poor replacement.

"There are a range of factors contributing to underemployment, none of which are addressed by a punitive work for the dole scheme, especially at the same time as the Government are cutting $534 million from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs.

"Investing in new businesses is an important and necessary step but should not be accompanied by extreme work for the dole measures," Senator Siewert concluded.