Welfare Abusers Are in the Government's Sights; Schwarten Applauds Crackdown on Spenders

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Byline: Adam Wratten adam.wratten@capnews.com.au

ROBERT Schwarten yesterday applauded a Federal Government move which could lead to a future crackdown on the city's welfare abusers who blow all their cash on alcohol and other addictions.

The Rudd government wants to force certain welfare recipients around the country to spend half of their payments on essentials like food and clothing (see accompanying fact box).

The move was yesterday backed by a local welfare worker and Mr Schwarten, the Member for Rockhampton, who is organising a summit in the city to fight escalating social disorder and crime rates which he believes are closely linked to alcohol and drug abuse.

"It's a bit much when people are provided with money to sustain themselves and they use all that income on alcohol or other addictive substances, they reside in public parks to the exclusion of other people, and then they have to be fed by generous people," Mr Schwarten said.

The Rudd Government says measures will be rolled out across all disadvantaged areas across the Northern Territory from next year.

These will then be reviewed, before being extended across the country.

The measures already apply to 73 indigenous communities in the NT.

Member for Capricornia Kirsten Livermore yesterday said the move was aimed at protecting children and families and helping disengaged individuals.

Ms Livermore said the decision to expand the program was based on a thorough evaluation of the Northern Territory experience which had shown the system had effectively increased the amount of money being spent on essentials.

"I can see this being a positive thing for a lot of people," Ms Livermore said.

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction... when faced with that kind of evidence as a government it's quite easy to say, 'Let's see if this can work in other parts of Australia. …