Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Labor hypocritical over Disability Support Pension

The Howard Government is fed up with seeing the Australian Labor Party’s hypocrisy over the Disability Support Pension (DSP).

Senator Patterson said a report in today’s edition of The Australian newspaper claims the Labor party would offer substantial help to people on DSP who wanted to make the transition from welfare benefits to the workforce.

“The Howard Government already has a package of $258 million to help Australians on the DSP return to work but Labor repeatedly refuses to pass the legislation,” Senator Patterson said.

‘Not once, but twice Labor has refused to support DSP assistance and now they have the hide to say they want to help people.

“Just last month, after Labor backflipped on the PBS, Labor MP Roger Price called on the Labor Party to reconsider reforms to the Disability Support Pension.

“But the Labor Party has refused to support the reforms despite Mr Latham’s public claims that he supports moves to boost workforce participation of people with the capacity to work.

“Opposition spokesman for Family and Community Services, Mr Swan, has no credibility when talking about increases in the number of people on DSP.

“Since 1982 the DSP customer population has been steadily increasing, with the greatest growth, of 13.3% in 1992, when Labor was in power.

“This growth has dropped to 2.2% in 2003, with the introduction of the Australians Working Together Better Assessment and Early Intervention initiative.

“But we do need to do more.”

Senator Patterson said that the proposed changes to DSP would increase support and employment opportunities for people who have the capacity to work at full award wages.

People currently receiving DSP will continue to have support and assistance if they desire to participate in the workforce, but they will all be exempt from these reforms.

“If the Opposition Leader was true to his word when he said “if the Howard Government does something good for this country I’ll be supporting it’, he would agree to pass the disability support pension reforms.”

I call on Mr Latham to pass the disability support pension reforms.”