The Australian Greens said today that the Federal Government had refused to rule out pregnant women or young families being subject to their cruel ‘earn or learn' budget regime.
"These budget changes will cause terrible hardship for young people forced to live on nothing, but to subject pregnant women and young families to this measure is cruel beyond belief," said Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services.
"The Minister wouldn't say whether a pregnant women or one member of an unemployed couple aged under thirty with a child or children could be denied income support for up to six months at a time. It is clear that the wellbeing of children is at risk as a result of this policy.
"The Government is also unable to outline how people who are denied income support payments will be expected to support themselves as they apply for 40 jobs a month. If they fail to meet this requirement, they face an even longer period without income support. The Government is making it harder for them to meet this target by denying them important assistance.
"It is also unclear what form of emergency relief will be available to those people affected by earn or learn, and the Minister did not rule out the use of food vouchers as possible options in the emergency relief program.
"The only definitive answer we got from the Government is that they're intent on making ‘no apology' for their cruel approach, despite the fact it is clear that people will be exposed to poverty and increasing inequality," Senator Siewert concluded.