ANGLICARE Western general manager Brad Addison says member for Calare John Cobb’s comments on last week’s budget show a lack of understanding about the problems faced by Australians battling to make ends meet.
Mr Cobb told the Central Western Daily young and unemployed people in rural towns and villages should get a lift into town and “find out where the jobs are”.
He also defended the $7 co-payment to see a GP by saying country people were more likely to put on a Band-Aid rather than see a doctor.
Mr Addison said while he knows Mr Cobb was trying to defend the budget, he needed to understand that finding a job in a location close to home is not as easy as it sounds.
Mr Addison said the budget targeted the most vulnerable people in society, including the young, unemployed and sole parents.
“Obviously we’re quite concerned about Mr Cobb’s comments and we’re quite concerned about a budget that’s targeting the most vulnerable people in the community,” he said.
“We don’t understand why the government would do that,” Mr Addison said.
“We understand the government has a responsibility to return a strong economy ... but they’re trying to do that on the backs of the poorest people in society.
“They’re creating a new class of people who are being pushed into poverty.”
Mr Addison said the budget undermined “the fabric of the Australian community”.
“A particular concern is young people and what happens when they reach the end of their six months without recourse to income support before they are eligible for another six months of work for the dole,” he said.
“The impact of no income for six months will inevitably lead to more people living in crisis and the cycle will only end when the person gets a job or turns 30.
“A $7 co-payment for visits to the GP will hurt people who can already not afford to go to a doctor. It will cost Australia’s healthcare system in the long term.
“For people on Newstart living on $36 a day all of this will come together in a perfect storm, leaving people in worsening poverty and into increased desperation.”
Former Labor candidate for Calare and Bathurst councillor Jess Jennings said he was “astonished” by Mr Cobb’s assessment of the budget.
“They’re not just out of touch, they’re quite simply illogical ... they’re idiotic,” he said.
“The idea that country people aren’t going to miss out is an overall lie.”
Mr Jennings said country and rural residents would be greatly impacted by cuts to health and education.
“I was astonished at just how stupid these comments were.”