Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and former Labor leader Bill Shorten have both called for the suspension of demand that welfare recipients meet employment agencies. Picture: Katrina Bridgeford
Senator Malarndirri McCarthy and former Labor leader Bill Shorten have both called for the suspension of demand that welfare recipients meet employment agencies. Picture: Katrina Bridgeford

Labor call to scrap welfare obligations during pandemic

NORTHERN TERRITORY Senator Malarndirri McCarthy has called on the government to suspend Centrelink and CDP's mutual obligations to prevent people having their payments suspended during the coronavirus pandemic.

Work-for-the-dole participants under the Community Development Program (CDP) in have been told to attend group activities despite coronavirus risk.

People who receive Centrelink payments such as Newstart also still must attend meetings with employment services agencies to receive income support, unless they have to isolate at home on the advice of a medical professional.

In Darwin today, Senator McCarthy and former Labor leader Bill Shorten both called for the suspension of demand that welfare recipients meet employment agencies.

"We have had providers in the Territory refuse to provide activities or do any kind of programs in our communities and rightfully so because they're concerned for their own staff," Ms McCarthy said.

There are around 30,000 people are currently participating in the CDP, the majority of who are indigenous.

"What happens if those programs are not provided, is that all of those 33,000 participants will be breached, there will be no funding, no money coming in," she said.

"There is a risk of people going hungry, risk to people being so afraid that they would do things that they would not normally do in these circumstances.

Mr Shorten said the government should not be asking the "poor, vulnerable and needy" to a higher standard than others during this health crisis.

"It would be ironic when we're telling people not to travel except for essential purposes and we're telling people they can work from home," he said.

"But for the people on welfare, we're telling them you got to be here, you got to be there."


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