Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Safety Net) Bill 2023; In Committee
One Nation doesn't support the opposition's amendment to this bill. I will explain why. The opposition, when in government, had the opportunity to introduce this, and they didn't. It's plucking something out of the air to try and solve the problem we have at the moment to counteract what the government is wanting to do—to introduce an extra $40 a fortnight for welfare recipients to help them with the rising cost of living, which we agree with; there should be some increase. When you talk about $300 a fortnight being given to people to incentivise them—if you have to incentivise them to earn an extra $300 a fortnight, why aren't they working for the first $300 they're receiving from the taxpayers? If they won't get up and go to work for the first $300, why incentivise them to work for the second $300 that's going to be given to them?
You've got the neighbour next door, who has to go out to work—get up early in the morning, drive in the traffic, go to work, put a long day in—and then they come back and see their neighbour still sitting on the porch, having their afternoon beer, having a wonderful life and doing whatever they want to do—sit on the couch all day, watch TV, go to the beach, go to picnics, go and play computer games—and the taxpayer is funding this. If you want introduce $300 a fortnight for welfare recipients, then my suggestion is: why don't you offer the same $300 to the taxpayer, who is working, and give them that extra $7,800 a year that they can earn tax-free? That's virtually what you're doing to those on welfare: you're offering them extra money to do absolutely nothing. Let's be fair right across the board—does that make sense?—especially when you have people in this country like farmers and retailers—it doesn't matter who it is—screaming out for workers. They absolutely cannot get workers. So what does the government do? 'We'll bring in skilled migrants from overseas. We'll flood the country with more migrants, to the tune of around 7,000 a week. We don't have the housing. We don't have the water. We don't have the infrastructure. We don't have the schools, the aged-care homes, the hospital care, the doctors, the nurses. But we don't care about that. We just need to bring them in to prop up the economy, because it looks good.' And who are a lot of these people going to vote for? The government that has allowed them to come into the country. So this is all a big scam. It's not looking after the Australian people here. So I don't agree with the opposition's amendment. It's not fair on everyday working Australians. This doesn't incentivise anyone.
The figures came out that we've got 156,250 people that have been on welfare for more than 10 years. We know we have third- and fourth-generation welfare. What have you done about that? What investigation has been done into that? Why aren't they working? With these scams, also they must apply for so many jobs. What do they do? Do they just get their name ticked off? They apply for jobs that are well beyond their capabilities. They don't have the skills for them, but they've applied for a job, and that's good enough. 'You'll still get your welfare cheque. We'll look after you.' Then you've got another 150,265 who have been on welfare for between five and 10 years. Then you've got another 224,575 who have been on welfare for between two and five years. Then you've got another 73,845 who have been on welfare for between one and two years. Then you've got 238,455 who have been on welfare for less than one year. With all these jobs out there, these people are still on unemployment benefits. Something is terribly wrong with our system.
I understand that welfare was set up as a helping hand, but too many people are now using it as a way of life. It may not suit a lot of us if we look for the better things in life, if we actually want that special car, a second TV and a nicer home and we want to go for holidays and trips. That can't be paid for on welfare. I get it. And it's not supposed to be. That's why you get a job. That's why each and every one of us should not rely on the person next to us to work and pay for our way of life. Welfare was supposed to be a helping hand, but governments, of both sides, have been reluctant to do anything about it because people have become so reliant on welfare. They rely on you to keep handing it out. That's why you won't change it and you won't make it tough—because you want their votes. The more that you suppress people, the more that you keep them under your thumb, the more that they rely on you, the more they're going to lean towards your way of voting. But you're not helping this country or future generations and you're not helping the taxpayer, because we are among the most highly taxed people in the world. This is the problem that we have.
What I've suggested to the government—I've been calling for it for a long time—is that there has to be accountability. I believe that we should give people that helping hand, give them the welfare payments, but only for two out of five years. So you might have employment for six months, and you might have three months where you can't find another job. 'Okay, we'll give you that helping hand. For two out of five years, we will support you and give you that helping hand, but don't sit around all day thinking this is a way of life.'
Another problem that we have with this is that our whole educational system has failed our people. We are so far behind in our educational levels compared to other countries—in some cases, two years behind. Our kids are being pushed through the educational system. You won't hold them back because you might upset them, but you're not preparing them for life. You're not preparing them with the right education that they need, and you're allowing them to go on to universities when they shouldn't be going to universities—again, a cost to the taxpayer. A lot of these people come through the system and can't get jobs, because they can't read or write. You're allowing a lot of immigrants into the country that should be able to pass an English test but can't. What do they do? They end up on our welfare system. They can't assimilate, because they can't communicate, and if they can't communicate a lot them can't get a job. This is the problem, but you're reluctant to do anything about it.
Make some tough decisions. I see the smirk on Minister Ayres's face, across the chamber. What I'm saying doesn't suit you, but it makes sense to the Australian people out there who are listening to the broadcast, especially the taxpayers, because they've had a gutful. Go and speak to them. You might appeal to the—