The Abbott government is planning to launch an attack on welfare that will be detrimental for many students. Many students already live far below the poverty line, and are forced to work long hours, eating into their study time. What we need is more, not less, welfare provisions, an idea that has been clearly rejected with the Liberals class war budget.
Abbott’s work for the dole legislation proposes under 30s will have to do 25 hours a week of community service if they are to receive unemployment benefits. In addition to this they will have to apply for 40 jobs a month. This policy is clearly serving a political rather than economic service, as economist across the country claim there is no evidence of such program’s reducing unemployment. This is part of the Liberal governments ideological attack on welfare.
Mining billionaire Twiggy Forrest has provided the government with his recommendations for an overhaul of the welfare system (I guess now they’re not even pretending in whose interests this budget lies). The most worrying recommendation is for the expansion of welfare quarantining. Under this system recipients of welfare are presented with a basics card, rather than a money transfer, which can only be spent as certain shops and prevents the purchase of certain items including alcohol and cigarettes, and does not allow for a cash withdrawal.
The most dangerous change to welfare in Australia is the “earn or learn” policy. Under 30s will have to wait 6 months after they apply for welfare to begin receiving payments, and will be monitored under certain regulations during this period. This will force thousands of young people across the country into abject poverty and homelessness, as they have no way of feeding or housing themselves.
The next big opportunity we have to fight these cuts is the National Day of Action on August 20. All across the country students will be marching to defend their education and oppose the myriad of other attacks facing students in the budget. Last semester hosted the biggest student demo in Sydney in almost 10 years, now we have to step it up! If you would like to get involved in the campaign, join the Education Action Group which meets every Tuesday at 2pm on the New Law Lawns. The EAG will be hosting a number of events in the lead up to the NDA, so there is plenty to get involved with!