Ken O’Dowd blasts welfare system

COMMUNITY MEETING: Ken O’Dowd speaks to Capella residents.
COMMUNITY MEETING: Ken O’Dowd speaks to Capella residents. Kelly Butterworth

WHEN Flynn MP Ken O'Dowd sat down for a community meeting in Capella, conversation turned from health to the role of people on the dole in the community.

"You won't get anyone on the dole coming to these sort of meetings, because they don't care about the community - they care about themselves and how they can screw the system," Mr O'Dowd told a group of 12 Capella residents.

He spent Monday in Tieri before heading to Capella, where topics discussed included the future of Australia Post, railway access, health and welfare recipients.

When Gina Rinehart was in Rockhampton recently, Mr O'Dowd said she aired her views about a flawed national welfare system.

"Her biggest whinge to me was 'Ken, you blokes in Canberra have got to stop the welfare system'," he said.

"There is 60% of Australians on some sort of welfare payment. She said, 'They can't be all that badly off'."

The Federal Government on Tuesday flagged an overhaul to a system where 550,000 people claim the Newstart Allowance.

With the disability and the NDIS, no-one wants to deny anyone with a disability any taxpayer money, but it's a fact that there are a lot of people on disability that shouldn't be on it

There are now 827,000 are on a disability pension.

A universal welfare payment was suggested, with top-ups for different need levels, eliminating multiple types of benefits.

"With the disability and the NDIS, no one wants to deny anyone with a disability any taxpayer money, but it's a fact that there are a lot of people on disability that shouldn't be on it," Mr O'Dowd said.

"That goes back to (former Prime Minister Paul) Keating's days when he wanted to make unemployment figures better, so he said 'half of you fellas on unemployment get on the disability pension', and with the disability pension comes carers so he doubled the problem."

Capella local John Hallam was at the meeting and he expressed his concern about future welfare payments.

"The largest population growth in Australia was the baby boomers, they're all getting pretty old now," he said.

"There's more and more people on some kind of benefit and less and less paying for that.

"All these doles and pensions have got to come from somewhere."

Mr O'Dowd said providing time for rural and regional constituents to have their say was "very important".

"Every area is slightly different, it's a grain-growing service town in Capella whereas Tieri is a pure mining town," he said.

Topics:  centrelink dole flynn ken odowd welfare

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