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Civil society should not engage with Macklin-led Economic Inclusion Committee until it is inclusive
Jenny Macklin's policies have harmed millions of people on low incomes and destroyed lives. Civil society must unite to demand the EIC is representative.
The Antipoverty Centres condemns the Labor government’s decision to appoint Jenny Macklin as chair of David Pocock’s Economic Inclusion Committee. This decision will devastate welfare recipients who felt a shred of hope when the committee was first announced.
The decision to appoint a former Labor minister makes a joke of the government’s claim that this committee is independent.
Jenny Macklin is the architect of changes to the Disability Support Pension that have seen the number of disabled people struggling to survive on JobSeeker soar.1 She openly stated this was done to achieve budget savings. 44% of people on an unemployment payment now have a disability or chronic health condition, compared to around 10% a decade ago.2
Jenny Macklin brought in changes to kick single mums off parenting payment on to JobSeeker. There are now 80,000 single parents on an unemployment payment.3 She rolled out the BasicsCard, entrenching income control. Despite Labor’s condemnation of cashless welfare, they continue to subject 20,000 people to it, 80% of whom are Indigenous.4
While social services minister Amanda Rishworth spews rhetoric about marginalised people being “the experts in our own lives”, she has ignored requests for economically excluded people to be on this committee. You can read our full letter to the minister here: bit.ly/EICletter
We know where Macklin’s loyalties lie and it’s not with us. The Economic Inclusion Committee has no legitimacy if it is not representative and inclusive of those it’s supposed to be for. Civil society organisations must stand with people in poverty and not give the government an imprimatur by endorsing the current composition of the EIC.
The Antipoverty Centre calls for:
Government to immediately make the committee itself inclusive by ensuring it is majority-comprised of organisations run by and for people with direct experience of economic exclusion.
Australian Council of Social Services, Brotherhood of St Lawrence and others seeking to represent low income people to refuse to engage with this committee until it is inclusive and representative.
Quotes attributable to Antipoverty Centre spokesperson and DSP recipient Kristin O’Connell
With Macklin leading it, this committee can be nothing but a fig leaf for the government to hide behind while its decisions leave welfare recipients desperate, homeless and hospitalised for poverty-related illnesses.
The welfare system is killing people and Jenny Macklin is one of the people who led us here.
David Pocock had good intentions in negotiating this committee. He and the rest of civil society need to stand with unemployed people and call out this process for the sham it is.
We wrote to the government last week urging them to make the Economic Inclusion Committee inclusive because we feared the composition of the committee would not represent us.
All our lowest expectations about this committee have been realised.
Jenny Macklin has been appointed to this committee do the goverment’s bidding, not stick up for people in poverty.
Media contact: 0413 261 362 / media at antipovertycentre.org
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About the Antipoverty Centre
The Antipoverty Centre was established in May 2021 by people living on Centrelink payments to counter problems with academics, think tanks and others in the political class making harmful decisions on behalf of people they purport to represent.
We have deep expertise in poverty, disadvantage and unemployment, because we live it. Our goal is to help ensure the voices and rights of people living in poverty are at the centre of social policy development and discourse. We believe there should be no decision made about us without us.
The Antipoverty Centre is not aligned with any political party and does not accept funding that places political constraints on our work.