Pas Forgione

One of the most significant welfare measures announced in the federal budget is the expansion of Work for the Dole. This will affect jobseekers aged 18-30 who will be forced to undertake placements of up to 25 hours a week for six months.

The Interim Report of the federal government’s long-awaited and much-feared welfare review, A New System For Better Employment And Social Outcomes, was released on June 29.

Former Mission Australia CEO Patrick McLure, who also chaired the 2000 welfare review for the John Howard government, is chair of the review.

The federal government is considering a proposal to force young unemployed people into strict military-style boot camps.

The plan is an inadequate, simplistic response to the complex problem of youth unemployment. The fact that Labor is seriously exploring the scheme is another indication of how increasingly right-wing the party has become on welfare policy.

The proposal, promoted as a “possible vote winner” to be announced before the upcoming election, would force early school leavers aged 15 to 21 into tough, hard-line boot camps, though precise details remain sketchy.

— About 2600 young people were forced onto income management from July 1.

— 50% of their payment is withheld and credited to a BasicsCard that can be used only at specific stores.

— Income management affects people living in the NT, Bankstown in New South Wales; Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland; Playford in South Australia; and Shepparton in Victoria.

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Young people are being targeted under the federal government’s income management scheme.  

Repower Port Augusta, the historic campaign to have the South Australian town host Australia’s first solar-thermal power station, is gathering momentum, with formal endorsements from several health and union organisations.

The campaign has generated widespread public interest. In Port Augusta itself, a community vote in July resulted in one-third of residents voting for solar over gas. The result was 4053 votes to 43, a remarkable turnout for the voluntary exercise.

Compulsory income management has been sharply criticised as unhelpful and demeaning for welfare recipients. But should we oppose all forms of compulsory income management? Or should we make an exception for what is known as child protection income management?

For much of the community and welfare sector this is an awkward dilemma.

It is especially awkward for those campaigning against “trials” of the controversial policy. The “trials” are taking place in Bankstown in New South Wales, Logan and Rockhampton in Queensland, Playford in South Australia and Shepparton in Victoria.

Compulsory income management must be opposed: this was the consensus from a lively August 29 community meeting hosted by the Socialist Alliance in Playford, northern Adelaide, where income management is being “trialled” for some welfare recipients.

This meeting included activists, locals, and representatives from community and welfare groups. People placed on income management have 50% to 70% of their payments put on a “Basics Card”, which can be used can be used to buy government-approved “essential” items.

And the winner is: solar power. Residents in the South Australian town of Port Augusta have voted overwhelmingly for solar over gas to replace the town’s coal-fired power stations.

The result, announced on July 22, was 4053 votes for a concentrating solar-thermal power plant, 43 for gas. In the end, 98% of voters favoured solar.

The result is testament to newly-formed local group, Repower Port Augusta, whose dedication ensured that almost one-third of residents voted, an impressive outcome for the voluntary exercise.

The campaign for Port Augusta to become the site of Australia’s first solar thermal power plant has escalated. Port Augusta residents will be asked to vote on the plan.

Newly-formed community group “Repower Port Augusta” will host a week-long community vote, which they say will show the overwhelming support that exists for a solar thermal future for the town.

Port Augusta residents have long-suffered serious health impacts from the town’s two coal-powered plants, which supply 30% of South Australia’s electricity.

In 2006, Alternet's Joshua Holland coined the “zombie lie”: an untruth that returns from the dead to haunt us, despite already being demolished by arguments and evidence.

Politics is dominated by zombie lies. “Asylum seekers are 'queue jumpers' arriving here illegally” is a classic example. Over the past few decades, zombie lies have helped legitimise paternalistic, punitive welfare reforms. They still shape debates about how to treat poor and unemployed Australians.

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