||Issue No. 210||27 February 2004|
Rock Of Ages
Interview: Trading in Principle
Unions: While We Were Away
Politics: Follow the Leader
Bad Boss: Safety Recidivist Fingered
Economics: Casualisation Shrouded In Myths
History: Worker Control Harco Style
Review: Other Side Of The Harbour
Taking The Piss
Tom Goes Off I
Tom Goes Off II
Costello Necks Young and Old
ALP front bencher Wayne Swan told NSW Labor Council Costello’s rhetoric about choice for older Australians was the flip side of a commitment to force hundreds of thousands of disability pensioners back into the workforce.
"The people he is hunting for on disability pensions are nurses with bad backs and men who have been out there physically labouring - people whose bodies have worn out," Swan said.
"What he has said to those people is that this country does not value your contribution, irrespective of how hard you worked to make this economy strong."
Swan was referring to Costello's identification of 2.7 million "passive non-contributors to our society of whom only one sixth were active".
He said the five sixths Costello had targeted for re-entry to the workforce or enforced reporting, on pain of losing their benefits included 400,000 widows, mature age and disabled people, and 300,000 parents receiving income support payments to raise their children.
"When he can go out and take the axe to people on benefits because of disabilities or acquired disabilities everyone in this room should be very, very afraid," Swan said.
He said the Costello statement came in two parts and the second outlined the Howard Government's vision for two Australia's.
"The first said people of retirement age could continue to work and withdraw their Super if they wanted to. Well, who could disagree with that?" Swan asked.
"But the second which he had the hide to camouflage under that reasonable proposition was abhorrent.
"The one thing you could say about the package was that it was pretty good for those at the top end of town, for those in white collar occupations. But I will tell you what, it will hurt anyone who has spent a lifetime working in a low paid job, or anyone who wears a pink or blue collar."
Swan pledged the ALP to rejecting Costello's blueprint and developing, instead, fair policies on work, family and ageing.
He urged trade unionists to mobilise their "grassroots networks" in key NSW federal seats to ensure a change of Government at this year's Federal election.
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