Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Brown admits he does not know the Greens welfare policy

Greens Leader, Senator Bob Brown, today admitted that he does not understand his own welfare policy.

Asked about the Greens policy to provide welfare to any Australian who simply does not want to work, Senator Brown replied ‘Um, I haven’t looked at that policy this morning. I doubt it’ (John Faine Morning Show 774ABC Melbourne).

Under the Greens Guaranteed Adequate Income Scheme there would be ‘a higher basic allowance available to everyone without the prior necessity to seek work’. The Work Including Employment policy says ‘We support those who choose not to seek employment.’

Family and Community Services Minister, Senator Kay Patterson today said ‘either Bob Brown does not know his policy, or he is simply covering up the fact that the Greens are soft on welfare’.

‘The Howard Government is committed to supporting those Australians who are seeking employment by providing financial assistance and quality development and training employment programmes.

‘The success of the Howard Government’s employment programs and strong management of the economy has provided over 1.3 million new jobs and record low unemployment,’ said Senator Patterson.

The Howard Government last week announced $7 million additional funding to create 4,000 new places and a $300 increase for commencement funding to the highly successful Personal Support Programme (PSP).

‘This programme has been a great success. It is achieving positive results, which are well above our expectations for some of our most disadvantaged jobseekers. Most importantly it is achieving job outcomes for the very long term unemployed.

‘One of the most pleasing aspects is that during the two years of the PSP over 60 percent of people moving to ongoing employment were unemployed for three years or more before starting with the programme,’ Senator Patterson said.

Senator Patterson said the Howard Government is committed to making sure that social security payments are targetted to those most in need and that recipients are paid their correct entitlement.

In the last financial year, the Department of Family and Community Services investigated 72,295 tip-offs, an increase of 23% on 2002-03 figures. After investigating the tip-offs, the department found 12, 941 people were incorrectly receiving benefits, worth a total of $38.7 million.

‘The Greens and Labor can not be trusted to run the economy, they can not be trusted on welfare and they can not be trusted on unemployment,’ Senator Patterson said.