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GPs question crackdown on disability payments

Peta Simpson: jobs already thin on the ground.
Peta Simpson: jobs already thin on the ground. Kari Bourne

SCORES of Sunshine Coast residents receiving government handouts due to disability could soon be examined by independent doctors to decide if their welfare payments should be cut and they be sent off to work.

The controversial proposal aims to weed out bludgers who have dodged work to instead live on government handouts, and also help reduce the cost of Australia's $15 billion disability support system.

However, local employment experts and GPs question whether there would be enough work locally to cater for any spike in jobseekers, including borderline cases that needed understanding employers.

Peta Simpson, who operates employment agency New Staff Solutions, said job vacancies were already thin on the ground, let alone adding reclassified disabled pensioners into the mix.

"There's not enough jobs to go around as it is, without putting more people in the workforce," she said.

"At the end of the day, no one in Australia likes a bludger, but people with disabilities are not bludgers."

Do you think it is fair the Government is investigating people on disability payments?

This poll ended on 19 May 2014.

Current Results

Yes, the Government should weed out the people who shouldn't be getting benefits.

65%

No, it is unfair they are being tested.

27%

The Government should give out more benefits.

6%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Dr Wayne Herdy, North Coast representative on the AMA Queensland branch council, supported the idea of having independent doctors assessing pensioners.

He hoped, however, the new system would also identify those with genuine disabilities who had previously been denied handouts.

"I think it would work both ways - there are some people who should get pensions, and then those who can do a job, but it then boils down to if there are jobs available that they can do."

Dr Herdy said those with disabilities were assessed by their long-term GP and filled out a 20-page application form to access payments, so the chances of bludgers and con-artists qualifying for disabled pensions was likely to be minimal.

Dr Herdy said that those who would have pensions cut under the new system would also lose access to other vital health support services.

"Some would be stuck on long-term unemployment, rather than the pensions, which means they don't get all the benefits the pension can give them," he said.

Topics:  budget disability editors picks employment pensioner



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