The Turnbull government is going back to basics with its May 9 budget and having another crack at dole bludgers.
After weeks of speculation over what the budget might bring to ease housing affordability pressures, Malcolm Turnbull has attempted to tone down expectations despite a red-hot property market in Sydney and Melbourne.
A new poll has found voters agreeing with the prime minister about housing affordability, saying while it’s an important issue it isn’t necessarily a top priority.
The government will crack down on people who claim welfare but won’t participate in work-for-the-dole schemes, closing a loophole that allows payments to continue despite people refusing interviews or placements.
Employment Minster Michaelia Cash says there is a cohort of people in Australia that actively says no to suitable work
“I think all taxpayers would rightly expect that those who can work should work and our welfare system should be there as a genuine safety net, not as something that people can choose to fund their lifestyle,” she told reporters in Brisbane on Monday.
Labor frontbencher Katy Gallagher is a “bit suspicious” when a coalition government attempts to demonise and attack those who rely on welfare.
“We support rigour around people being responsible for the money they receive and actually having to play by the rules. There is no problem with that,” she told reporters in Canberra.
But Labor wants to make sure the government isn’t being “harsh and unfair” by attacking those who are most vulnerable.
However, Senator Gallagher welcomed a backflip by the government that will enable Australia’s most vulnerable people access to legal services under new funding arrangements.
The government will provide $39 million for community legal centres and $16.7 million for indigenous legal services in the budget.
“We’re actually announcing this in advance of the budget because we want to send a very clear signal about where the government’s priorities lie,” Attorney-General George Brandis told reporters in Brisbane.
The coalition has come under sustained fire from Labor, minor parties and community groups for not guaranteeing ongoing funding to the legal services, with previous commitments set to end on July 1.
Senator Gallagher said it was a humiliating about face by Senator Brandis.
“Just eight weeks out from these cuts taking effect, for those who have campaigned against the cuts, the victory is theirs today,” she said.
A new survey found a majority (57 per cent) of voters regard Medicare and hospitals as their top priority.
The polling, by JWS Research for the Australian Financial Review, found stimulating economic growth and employment came second on 48 per cent, followed by welfare and social issues on 46 per cent and then housing affordability and funding for education and schools, both on 41 per cent.