Media Releases

Federal Budget: cause and effect

Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent

Dignity Party MLC Kelly Vincent has raised serious concerns about Federal Budget measures mooting changes to welfare payments, particularly around removal of the Disability Support Pension where substance abuse has caused the disability, and the further extension of the cashless debit card. She also welcomed the announcement of full NDIS funding into the future, with the Medicare levy increase.

“I am alarmed to hear the Treasurer ruling that disability pensions will be cancelled for people whose medical conditions are ‘caused solely by their own substance abuse’,” says Kelly Vincent.

“This announcement fails to understand the complex relationship for some people between mental illness, substance use and abuse, and the onset of disability.

“Determining cause and effect is not as simple as the Treasurer suggests.  Some people have a drug and alcohol problems in adulthood due to childhood trauma, abuse and neglect.  Why are people with mental illness being subject to the government’s draconian drug-testing measures?

“The demerit point system for Newstart recipients is a punitive measure considering 27 percent of people on Newstart have a diagnosed disability.  These people may miss appointments and activities for valid reasons, and then be faced with cuts to their income payments, increasing their risk of homelessness and poverty.  In the end taxpayers will be left to pick up the pieces, so it’s likely to prove a pointless exercise.

“I call on the Federal Government to abandon the Cashless Debit Card (CDC) in the Ceduna region of South Australia where it is causing humiliation, anxiety and restricting social access for people in receipt of the DSP and Newstart payments.

“To announce they are extending the trial given the negative consequences for many, and knowing the administrative cost per card is $10,000, adds insult to injury.  The Government are failing to listen to the known problems with the CDC.

“I do welcome measures in this Budget that will ensure complete and sustained funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) – provided for by a small increase to the Medicare levy.

“Disability can strike anyone at any time – it’s not an exclusive club.  You can’t predict when you or a family member might have a stroke, be diagnosed with a degenerative condition, or your child will be born with a disability.

“A fully funded NDIS gives all Australians piece of mind that a more coordinated and better resourced system is being rolled out, should you need disability now or in the future. As the Productivity Commission said in 2010, the NDIS will assist all Australians with disability, and their family carers, to better participate in the social and economic life of our nation,” said Ms Vincent.