House debates

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Statements by Members

Newstart Allowance

1:57 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to express my disappointment, and the disappointment of many in this place, about this government's continuation—six years now—of division in this country—six years of pitting one Australian against another. The worst example that I have seen in my time here happened this week. When people from across the spectrum, from across the country, call for a rise in Newstart, this government hits back by demonising people in this country reliant on our social network. This is a disgrace.

I want to draw people's attention to what I find to be the saddest piece of this: the hypocrisy at the heart of it. The government want to demonise people reliant on this network, but at the same time they come in here with soaring rhetoric about mental illness and how they want to destigmatise mental illness. In my electorate, I know many young people who have been breached on Newstart not because they're not looking for work but because they are unwell. When a young man contacts my office and tells me that he was breached and, as a result, ended up in another episode in a mental health institution locally, I want to call this Prime Minister out: you're dividing this country when what we need is unity and action.