September 23, 2014

SUBJECT: Kevin Andrews caught out fabricating welfare reforms and misleading the Australian people.

JENNY MACKLIN: Thanks everyone. This morning we see that Kevin Andrews, Tony Abbott’s Minister for Social Services has been caught out fabricating aspects of the New Zealand welfare system to try and convince the Australian people that they should swallow the Government’s very harsh Budget measures for young unemployed people.

Kevin Andrews has been telling the Australian people that in New Zealand there’s a one month compulsory waiting period before people get access to unemployment benefits - this is not true.

He should have known this, he should have made sure he was on top of the facts before he went out and peddled this untruth that he is using to try and convince people to support his very harsh measures.

Labor knows that telling young people under the age of 30 that they should live on absolutely nothing for six months or more is completely unreasonable – what on earth are people going to live on?

Kevin Andrews has come out and said in response that well people in New Zealand have to live for a month without anything – we should do that in Australia. This is untrue. Kevin Andrews should come clean and make plain to the Australian people that he got it wrong, that he’s been misleading the Australian people about this very serious change that they’re trying to pursue.

You’d have to say that there is a pattern of deceit here. We saw the Prime Minister before the election say that there would be no changes to pensions. And in the Budget in May we saw some of the most radical changes to pensions that over the next ten years will see an $80 a week cut to pensions in this country. Yet Tony Abbott gets up in the Parliament every day and just denies it. Well Kevin Andrews and Tony Abbott have to start telling the truth and start recognising that this Budget is going to hurt a lot of people if they get it through.

JOURNALIST: The Budget came out in May it’s now September. Why did it take you so long to find this out if you had suspicions?

MACKLIN:  Well we’ve been working on it. Trying to make sure we did get it right, checking with people in New Zealand, checking with academics, checking with the Parliamentary Library. We wanted to make sure we did get it right, we finally got the advice at the end of last week and now we’ve made it public.

JOURNALIST: New Zealand still has some sort of a waiting period but Minister Andrews says that that money appears to be back paid.  If there was something similar in Australia would that be something Labor would consider then?

MACKLIN:  Well let’s just make sure we understand exactly what does exist in New Zealand. What people have to do when they become unemployed and they apply for unemployment benefits they have to undertake a number of activities, for example registering with a job agency. So that won’t necessarily take them very long once they’ve done these activities they can then start getting paid. It’s not the case as Minister Andrews has been peddling that people have a compulsory one month waiting period with no pay. That is just false.