A leaked cabinet documents show the Abbott administration toyed with the idea of cutting off income support to anyone below the age of 30 ahead of the 2014 Federal Budget, among other cruel, barrel-scraping measures intended to save federal funds.
The ABC reports the expenditure review committee, comprised of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, former treasurer Joe Hockey, and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, asked one-time Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews how best to bar so-called “job snobs” from receiving income assistance.
One document, marked as “sensitive”, shows Andrews presented three options. The first was to temporarily or permanently bar job-hunters under 30 from receiving any support payments.
The second proposal was to limit access to support payments to those living in areas with significantly lower employment prospects. The final proposal was to limit those payments to young job-seekers with a proven work history, ostensibly to prod them into taking any available employment.
Andrews suggested those plans could come with a government-provided card to cover basic necessities, “in order to lessen the harshness of the measure.”
Ultimately, those proposals were scrapped, and the leak suggests Andrews was partly responsible for vetoing those “fundamental” changes to the nation’s welfare system.
“It is not clear that there is a strong evidence base for this approach,” Andrews said, before expounding on the potentially drastic consequences of the measures.
“Young people in financial hardship could experience homelessness, be driven to crime and other antisocial behaviour, family breakdown and possible criminal flow-on resulting from removing the social security safety net.”
Speaking to ABC Radio, Labor MP Anthony Albanese said that even though the cuts were not introduced, they were indicative of the Abbott government’s apparent bent against vulnerable Australians.
“The problem that the government had is clearly people including the then prime minister Tony Abbott and the then treasurer Joe Hockey, it would appear, thought that it was OK to put young people in a position whereby they had no income support whatsoever,” Albanese said.
When reached for comment by ABC this morning, Abbott said “while I never comment on the deliberations of cabinet, the 2014 budget was an attempt to make serious structural reforms to lift our nation’s productivity.”
Fortunately, social services in 2018 are an absolute dream for young Australians, so we he have nothing to worry about.
Image: Morne de Klerk / Getty