Monday, 20 August 2018
Statements by Members
I was going to call on the Prime Minister to intervene with the Minister for Home Affairs, to get him to show a little bit of humanity, but the irony of that, of course, is that the Minister for Home Affairs is busy intervening with the Prime Minister. But, even for Minister Dutton, the cuts to income support for up to 12,000 vulnerable asylum seekers show cruelty at a new low. The brutality of these changes is shocking, and they affect my electorate greatly. Over 25 per cent of the asylum seekers living in Victoria live in my electorate, in the City of Greater Dandenong. We know the government's agenda is to say 'migrants' and 'welfare' a lot, for base, divisive political reasons, but understand what this means in reality. These are the most vulnerable people in Australia, living in our community on $247 a week, a meagre payment. Of course people who can work should work—no disagreement. But to run a prejudiced stereotype campaign to say these people are somehow lazy and don't want to work is disgraceful. The reality is: these people's claims have not been processed. They've lived here for years in limbo, waiting. Your government would not let them apply. They had no work rights. They weren't allowed to work. Then all of a sudden the government says: 'Here are work rights. You've got seven days to prove your claim. Oh, you're not in a job? Well, we'll take your money away.' This is a policy for homelessness. It's a policy for poverty. It's a policy for exploitation in the workplace. It's a policy for sexual exploitation. It's a policy to drive up crime. It's a policy for tent cities. And that's probably just what the Minister for Home Affairs wants, so he can then say, 'They're all criminals.'