Ruston must retract comments blaming poor people for supply issues
The Antipoverty Centre rejects the social services minister's attempt to mislead the public on the causes of supply issues.
The Antipoverty Centre is calling on the government and business leaders to stop blaming job vacancies and supply chain issues on welfare recipients.
In response to comments made by social services minister Anne Ruston, spokesperson Kristin O’Connell said:
“Once again we have a government using unemployed people as a tool of misdirection and obfuscation, blaming us to cover up the distressing circumstances we all find ourselves in, unable to get the basic goods we need.
“These supply issues have come about because of the government’s own choices, which have failed to keep us all safe from COVID.
“This is an ignorant and offensive attempt to shift people around as if we’re economic units to be used to plug holes in the workforce.
“They are so disdainful of paid workers and so patronising towards unemployed people that they think these jobs are unskilled, or that employers are willing to hire new staff to fill holes in the roster due to temporary absences.
“Unemployed people are desperate for sustainable jobs and adequate support.
“People on JobSeeker are forced to apply for up to 20 jobs a month. A quarter of people on the payment have a job. Many of these are likely sick essential workers – people on Centrelink poverty payments are being exposed to the virus because they can’t afford to stay home.
“The government needs to stop peddling ‘dole bludger’ myths and implement policies that would protect people and help us through this crisis: do what they did in 2020, stop forcing people out into the community unnecessarily by lifting payments to at least the poverty line and stopping ‘mutual’ obligations.
“Let me be clear: people on social security payments are the ones hit hardest by these shortages. The cheapest goods, which we rely on to survive, are flying off the shelves and making it impossible to manage our finely honed budgets.
“We once again implore politicians and industry leaders to stop blaming the most vulnerable people in the community for their choice to unleash this virus on us after two years of zero planning.
“Minister Ruston must retract and apologise for her shameful comments, and get to work supporting the people she is supposed to care for.”