Thursday, 6 December 2018
Lindsay Electorate: Pensions and Benefits
I would rather be using this three minutes to wish everybody in my community a really happy Christmas and to thank all of the Parliament House staff—the clerks, the drivers, the security officers—who support us here in our jobs every day. But the reality is that two people I know of in my electorate have, in the last 24 hours, had their Christmas spirit severely dampened by this cruel and out-of-touch government.
I rise today to talk about an issue for a carer in my electorate, Christie Green. Christie is a single mum to four beautiful kids: Tristan, Tyrone, Scarlett Rose and Carlito. All of these children have special needs. All of them have had lives of struggle. Tristan is now 16 and is supported by his mum. He has level 2 autism, ADHD, severe depression, anxiety and other behavioural issues. With four kids with special needs, it is not a surprise that Christie is supported by Centrelink payments that are designed to help families in her position. Yesterday she learnt that her carer payment had been cancelled. That's fine; we can get it back online. But Centrelink have told her that this government's instructions are to make her wait six to nine months to get her carer payment restored. We are coming into the festive season. I urge Minister Fletcher and this government, who are completely out of touch when it comes to special needs families, to do something about it.
As if that were not cruel enough, Lachlan Bell, the son of another constituent in my community, Renee Bell, has a DSM5 diagnosis of level 3 autism. He has social communication issues. He has type 1 diabetes and epilepsy. He's non-verbal and totally incontinent. This morning Renee woke up to the news that her son's NDIS package has been slashed by 70 per cent. His diagnosis and his needs have not changed by 70 per cent in just 12 months, and it is an absolute disgrace that Renee is coming into Christmas with the uncertainty of what funds will be available to help her support her child. Renee is also a single mum. She has two other children. Olivia also has a diagnosis, and her funding claim is also about to be reassessed. This is nothing but out-of-touch cost savings by a very cruel, out-of-touch government, and I would urge Minister Fletcher and his assistant minister, Sarah Henderson, to ensure that this is fixed before Christmas and that their office and their departments are doing their jobs.
I am sick and tired of rising on my feet week after week in this place, dealing with these same issues. This is not a one-off; this is, unfortunately, a pattern. It is a pattern of behaviour that the government will be happy to continue to repeat for families like Christie's and Renee's. I have absolutely no doubt that this Prime Minister will rock up somewhere on Christmas Day with a fancy hat and serve meals to those people he is absolutely disadvantaging—people like Christie and Renee, who will probably have to turn up to these things in order to put food on their family's table. It is cruel and out of touch.