2017 has begun for Malcolm Turnbull much the same as 2016 ended - with division, dysfunction, disappointment and no economic leadership in sight.
Economic leadership does not amount to pension cuts and the Centrelink debt recovery notice debacle. This Government can only be characterised as a Government that is hell bent on making life harder for the disadvantaged and the vulnerable.
On one hand, we have the Turnbull Government calling for wage cuts at a time when jobs are disappearing - including 4,500 full time Tasmanian jobs in the last year and 600 in the last month, and the lowest wage growth ever recorded.
And then on the other hand we have enormous community concern and the horror stories of the Centrelink robo-debt debacle.
People are calling my office in tears and my colleagues are being inundated with calls from the public because they have no one else to turn to for help.
Liberal Senator Jonathon Duniam said yesterday that the debt recovery process was causing unnecessary angst to the community. He also wrote on behalf of Tasmania’s Liberal Senate team attacking the Minister for his handling of the crisis. The fact that Senator Duniam is attacking Human Services Minister Alan Tudge over the issue speaks volumes.
If Senator Duniam was serious about fixing the program he would immediately join with Labor and call on his Government to suspend the debt recovery.
He would also show his support for Labor’s proposed Senate Inquiry into the debt recovery debacle.
And now we hear that age pensioners and people with a disability are next in line to be targeted by the Turnbull Government’s flawed Centrelink debt program.
The only group not under fire from this Government are those from the big end of town who will benefit from a $50 billion tax cut.
The talk-fest from the Turnbull Government has to stop and the bungled program must be suspended.
This crisis has been confounded by Malcolm Turnbull’s decision to give the Aged Care portfolio to a junior Minister. This is a portfolio that needs an experienced minister with economic and social policy experience - the Government does not prioritise the needs of older Australians.
The chaos and dysfunction at the heart of the Turnbull Government has seen it mismanage everything it touches – the botched 2016 census and now the Centrelink’s duded debt recovery program.
Malcolm Turnbull is not the Prime Minister or the leader he told the country he would be and those in the community are losing all confidence in him.
Rather than leading the Government and the nation, it is clear that Mr Turnbull is being led by the extreme elements of his party.
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