September 30, 2014

A Parliamentary committee has embarrassed Prime Minister Tony Abbott by unanimously finding his harsh and unfair changes to support for young job seekers are a breach of human rights.


The Human Rights committee, chaired by Liberal Senator Dean Smith, concluded Mr Abbott’s proposed six-month Newstart waiting period for people under-30 looking for work breaches the right to social security and the right to an adequate standard of living.

At a time when youth unemployment has soared to 13.4 per cent – around double the national average – now is not the time for the Government to turn its back on young Australians.

The committee also found the age restrictions for accessing support while looking for work breached equality rights and non-discrimination on the basis of age.

In its report, the committee found:

2.11 However, the (Minister for Social Service Kevin Andrews’) response does not provide any further information as to how young people are to sustain themselves during a six-month period without social security. The committee noted in its original assessment that information regarding the likely impact of the measure on individuals and their families, and how individuals subject to the measure will retain access to adequate shelter and food, is necessary in order to assess the human rights compatibility of this measure.

2.12 Accordingly, the committee considers that the measure is incompatible with the right to social security and the right to an adequate standard of living. (page 72 and 73).

Labor welcomes the findings of the Government-controlled and chaired Human Rights committees, which confirm Mr Abbott’s cruel proposals breach article nine of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

This is another embarrassing blow for the Abbott Government following Minister Andrews being caught out lying about details of New Zealand’s welfare reform in order to convince crossbench Senators to pass this cruel measure.

Unfortunately for the Minister, New Zealand has no such period. It appears he just made it up.

Since Budget night, Labor has urged the Government to abandon this vicious measure, or risk consigning a generation of young job seekers to a cycle of poverty.

Labor will fight this harsh measure every step of the way. 

Labor calls on crossbench Senators to rule out doing any deal with Mr Abbott that forces young people to go without any income support while they look for work.


Download PDF