Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Price Is Right – Come On Down Mr Latham

The Labor Party has been urged to act on calls from its backbench to drop its opposition to reform of the Disability Support Pension.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today called on the Opposition Leader Mark Latham to support Labor MP Roger Price’s call for Labor to pass the Disability Support Pension Reform Bill in the Senate, which Labor has blocked twice.

“Today, Mr Price called on the Labor Party to reconsider reforms to the Disability Support Pension.

“I urge Mr Latham to heed the call from his backbench and act now to help to increase the opportunities for people with disabilities to participate in work.

“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.”

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

“The reforms are not about people with a severe profound disability. The proposed changes are aimed at people who are able to work 15 hours or more a week on full award wages.

“These changes will only apply to people applying for the DSP after the passage of the legislation.

“People currently receiving the DSP would continue to do so under the current rules.”

Senator Patterson said the package of reforms included an additional $258 million to be spent on mainstream and specialist employment, rehabilitation and training services to help people affected by the changes to move into work.

“Too often people with disabilities face a number of barriers to gaining work – this is a positive move to remove those barriers,” she said.

“We want to give all Australians the opportunity to reach their full potential. If a person has the capacity to undertake work it will have a positive impact on the individual, their family and their local community.