The Guardian July 10, 2002

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Letters to the Editor:

Open letter to the Minister for Family and Community Services

Thank you for reconsidering your Department's Budget proposal in regards 
to the DSP [Disability Support Pension]. You should know however, that this 
will make no difference to the current situation. Although you promised 
existing DSP clients would be exempted, you cannot exempt them once they 
have lost their DSP entitlements through obtaining work of more than 30 
hours per week, or any income exceeding eligibility for the DSP.

People who are currently working with a disability are already affected by 
the rule, how will you exempt them?

New Start Allowance (NSA) was developed and so much lower than pensions 
because it was thought of as a short-term payment, to help people over 
their temporary hard times. No one, not even able-bodied people can survive 
in the long term on NSA alone.

How will people with a disability survive their long-term stay on NSA?

You gave a wonderful passionate show about the $500 you believe the union 
movement will ask from the workers it delivered a service to.

Five hundred dollars would hurt people on low incomes badly, as you stated 
in the Senate. Apart from the fact that unions would not demand such a sum 
from the lowest paid workers, and the decision did not prescribe any fees, 
you were right in that it would hurt people on low incomes a lot to loose 

But what are you proposing for people who have even lower incomes than the 
lowest paid workers?

Cuts between $1380 (just the $52.80 less) and $3900. in cases where 
people with disabilities work part time.

Tell me, would your mother have been able to live on $180 per week when she 
was so sick and needed medication, care and maybe access to transport? 
Certainly not!

Could you turn your passion on in those areas you are looking after?

Paid maternity leave for women has been introduced since many years in 
other countries, for example, I have not heard you talking about it. Last 
year you have clawed back $1000 from single parents and more, due to the 
new FTB rules and shared access.

I really cannot see any justification for your newfound passion for the low 
paid workers who have to pay for services received.

Maybe you need to re-arrange your priorities?

Monika Baker
SA Secretary
Un(der)employed People's Movement against Poverty Inc

Abbott's sentiment offensive and denigrating
Mr Abbott, Federal Workplace Relations Minister claims that he was 
misquoted when he had said the following at a conference: "If we are 
honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad 
father or a bad husband  not withstanding all of his faults you find he 
tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he's 
employing someone while he is in fact a boss" (Australian, 2-7-

I find the sentiment expressed by Mr Abbott extremely offensive and 

Thousands of workers have lost their entitlements through no fault of their 
own  what has the Government and its Ministers done about that? There are 
workers who have been injured at work through health and safety neglect of 
their bosses  what is the Government's response to that? What about those 
people who lost their lives at work?

For years there has been a struggle to curtail abuse both at home and at 
workplace  emotional, sexual, physical. All of a sudden we should be 
grateful for crumbs off the boss's table when he/she feels like it? I don't 
think so.

I believe there has been quite a strong response to these comments from 
radio listeners, and rightly so.

It's not a misquote, as Mr Abbott says. What he let out was the kind of 
society and workplace relations that his party aspires to  very much akin 
to workplace and domestic slavery.

What next  kneeling before John Howard when he does his morning run? No 
wonder they hate unions and everybody who stands up to their bullying 

J B Lucas
Fairfield, NSW

Policy model for paid leave including maternity leave
We believe that to make paid maternity leave acceptable to employers and 
the general public the model needs to be broadened to take in unemployed 
and underemployed people. This flexible model will then benefit not only 
women or men taking maternity leave but also unemployed or underemployed 

The Swedish/Dutch model would transfer to Australia well: The job of an 
employed person who wants maternity leave for a year is given to an 
unemployed person.

There are many qualified educated and professional unemployed people, 
particularly mature people on the dole, who would welcome a year's work.

This model guarantees the unemployed person work for a whole year. The 
person on maternity leave would then get the dole for a year without being 
put on Job Search, etc.

An alternative could be everyone moves up in the firm and the unemployed 
person fits in at the bottom end. However the rest of the employees may not 
like to return down the ladder after a year.

The person on leave would then get the unemployment benefit for a year no 
matter what their job was. The cost to the taxpayer, the employer and the 
Government is nothing, in fact it will save the Government.

In fact the Government saves because they would not have to service or 
provide case managers, etc to the person on maternity leave or the person 
who takes the job for a year who would otherwise be unemployed.

After the year there may be a vacancy in the firm or there may not. However 
the unemployed person would have gained not only experience and their 
chance of employment but also self-esteem.

On the social front the expectation of suicides of unemployed people should 
show some reduction. The unemployed figures would be greatly reduced and 
the self-esteem of many people would be lifted. A good social impact 

This model is a much better prospect for unemployed people than work for 
the dole. Our members report that work for the dole is soul-destroying, 
especially when it is all a person has been offered for six years. Self-
esteem becomes depleted, many contemplate suicide or turn to drugs.

It would be a win-win situation if the person on maternity leave accepted a 
reduction in pay for a year. This model would cost the employer nothing and 
may be more acceptable to employers and government.

The model could be extended to any worker in the workforce to take leave 
for a year. This would benefit many employers whose workers wanted to go 
abroad to gain further experience.

The long-term benefit to employers would be an advantage if the worker 
gains experience overseas or interstate when they return to the firm. Young 
people could request a year off to work in places like East Timor.

This would encourage character development and help Australia's aid program 
in developing countries. A ceiling on who should have access to the 
unemployment benefit would prevent those on high income from gaining access 
to the plan.

I believe this model has merit and should be explored further by the union 

Mary Jenkins,
Underemployed People's Union of WA
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