It is hard to keep a lie hidden forever, especially if you don’t dust over its tracks. I’ve uncovered one from Joe Hockey. Not only was it a lie, but it was also an act of contempt from the Howard Government towards disadvantaged Australians, or indeed, all Australians.
The lie goes back awhile, back to the failed Welfare to Work (WtW) program introduced in 2005 to increase workforce participation among single parents, people with disabilities, and unemployed people aged over 50. I won’t bother with the finer details of the policy; it’s not important.
We didn’t hear much about WtW until March 2007; an election year. Apparently it was a great success according to Joe Hockey:
Welfare changes and a healthy job market are set to deliver the Federal Government a $500 million budget surprise this financial year as the number of people on income support payments falls faster than expected.
The Employment Minister, Joe Hockey, seized on the figures as evidence the Government’s controversial welfare and industrial relations changes were helping disadvantaged people find jobs.
Latest estimates by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations [DEWR] show income support payments will cost $21.76 billion in 2006-07, down from the $22.28 billion estimated in last year’s budget.
The largest savings are coming from a lower than expected number of people on the disability support pension [DSP] under the welfare to work changes and falling dole payments to the unemployed.
Well this was a lie. Let’s look at the DSP numbers for, and surrounding, 2007. Here’s a summary:
DSP Population as at June
If the figures were going up, then what happened to the $500M that was meant to be saved?
The Howard Government wanted it for something else, hence the lie that it wasn’t needed under the WtW program. My source tells me that the Secretary of DEWR, Dr Peter Boxall, was told to take $750M from Newstart and DSP payments as it was needed elsewhere, with no explanation given. This infuriated Boxall (a Howard appointee), who had no option but to find the money, however, could only come up with $500M. My informant attests that this demand came from the top, which could only mean Hockey or even Howard himself.
It was not a political move, although it is easy to assume it might have been given it was an election year. No, it was much more sinister than that.
. . . a strengthening of . . . training effort comprising a dedicated logistics team of roughly 50 personnel, together with about 20 extra Army training instructors to work with the Iraqi Army.
And that, it is whispered, is where the money went. It was ripped away from needy Australians to help America with their war in Iraq. Aided, by the way, with a nice little terrorist alert around the same time to help cushion the blow; to win public support. A terrorist alert, I have on advice, that was fabricated for political gain.
Lying and contempt is the LNP modus operandi.