Welfare cuts challenged by the UN

Yesterday the United Nations released a letter to the Australian Government asking them to explain their welfare cuts.

UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights and the working group on discrimination against women are warning the cuts could have a detrimental effect on the human rights of up to 100,000 Australians, and could be contrary to some of Australia’s international obligations.

Last year, New Zealand was also warned that the National Government’s welfare reforms amount to discrimination. The UN committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights said that the last round of welfare changes were inconsistent with international obligations and that the Government should reconsider work tests for single parents with children over five.

The Minister said she would consider the committee’s recommendations but clearly decided her view was more valid than that of the panel of international human rights experts, because nothing changed.

The next wave of welfare reforms, about to be reported back from select committee, raised several more breaches of human rights. Enforcing a ‘social obligation’ on beneficiary families is discrimination on the basis of employment and family status, and as I have written previously breaches UNCROC multiple times.

Further, the drug testing in the proposal is potentially inconsistent with the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure and the right to refuse medical treatment. I also have grave concerns about whether the changes will also be inconsistent with the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.

The Australian example should be a warning to New Zealand.

8 thoughts on “Welfare cuts challenged by the UN

  1. Your observations on drug testing are invalid. Drug testing a potential employee can in no way be seen as “unreasonable” and so does not fall foul of your right against unreasonable search. In addition, a drug test is not a medical treatment, it is a pre-employment investigation; similar to a hearing test or a lung function test. I do not hear you screaming about these tests infringing potential employees rights.

    The simple fact of the matter is that employers have always been able to insist on these tests. All that is happening is that the government is refusing to allow people to avoid employment by the simple expedient of taking cannabis every now and then. Most beneficiaries, those who want to work, will be happy to curb their smoking of weed in order to get a job, so this will effect a limited number of people only. This will also have no effect on true drug addicts as they will be on sickness benefit. You are, therefore, making a big mountain out of a very small molehill indeed.

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  2. So Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and others have also ignored the UN over the matter of work obligations for sole parents then?

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  3. I feel that it’s inspiring that the UN is challenging our governments over welfare rights. It is only a pity the UN doesn’t have more teeth.

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  4. Universal standards would require that all women with children over 5 are required to seek work and all receive the DPB while they do not have work.

    PS Paying a social wage (equivalent to the single rate dole) to non working mothers with working partners is required to reduce resentment about stay at home mums on the DPB. If couples need two incomes to afford homes and raise families ,even with WFF, then each partner should have individual access to income support while unemployed.

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  5. Rather ironic that single parents with children over two are expected to train to get ready for work when:
    the student allowance is less than the DPB
    there are still fewer jobs than people looking for them

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  6. Easy answer, dont have kids if you cant afford to support them yourself, different story if you have them already and things turn to custard. Those are the people we need to be supporting.

    Discouraging no hopers with no jobs having kids would go along way towards removing the dropkicks out of our society, because we all know that loser parents raise loser kids and so the cycle continues.

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  7. Jan,

    Your solution lies close to hand.

    Russel Norman as want to be finance minister in the 2014 Labour/Green government will write a 2013 shadow budget, in which will be provisions for revenue collecting and distribution to pay out more welfare.

    So look no further then the Greens 2013 shadow budget, for all will be revealed.

    What taxes will raise, what expenditure will be cut and what welfare will be increased.

    Surely there will be a 2013 shadow budget from the Greens, No?

    For how can Russel Normans’ quest to be finance minister be taken seriously if he does not produce a shadow budget?

    How can he negotiate with Labour for finance minister, when David Parker will certainly produce a shadow budget?

    What bargaining position will he be in without a shadow budget?

    None at all I would say.

    Or is the Russel Norman idea of finance minister already a dead duck?

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  8. I sense another minister about to ingore recommendations. This government is fast becoming a dictatorship.

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