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Govt's confidential memo leaked: PM takes aim at economy, 'misuse of welfare'

A close up of Scott Morrison speaking. He wears a grey suit jacked with a yellow tie. He is wearing glasses, and the photo is taken mid-speech.
Scott Morrison's confidential memo leaked. Source: Getty

The Australian Prime Minister’s talking points for today with Members of Parliament have been inadvertently leaked to the media, revealing lower taxes and welfare as hot on the Morrison Government’s agenda.

The unofficial internal memo, which was meant to be confidential, lists Scott Morrison’s priorities, which include a “plan for an even stronger economy” by “building resilience and rewarding aspiration”.

The government’s plans for the economy

Making the economy strong was paramount on the PM’s list, and to do that, the memo highlighted lowering taxes so Aussies can “keep more of what [they] earn”, and reducing the costs of doing business.

“In setting out the budget we anticipated the economic challenges ahead and put in place significant tax cuts and infrastructure spending which together with the 50 basis points in rate cuts and improving housing market will be reflected from the September quarter onwards,” the memo stated.

“We will continue to closely monitor global economic events and will take the necessary actions to ensure our economy continues to grow to the benefit of all Australians.”

‘Newstart is not meant to be a replacement salary’

Under the headline ‘play to our economic strengths’, the PM said he intended to prevent the “misuse of welfare” and help more Australians into jobs through the “expansion of the cashless debit card and trialling mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients”.

“Newstart is a safety net, it’s not meant to be a replacement for a salary,” the memo stated.

The government’s approach to welfare has been heavily opposed by Aussies and social groups like ACOSS, with Professor Nadine Ezard, the clinical director of St Vincent’s Sydney’s Alcohol and Drug Unit, deeming the proposed drug testing a “dead-end strategy”.

“We’re against it because our expertise and experience tells us that this isn’t the way to help people into treatment,” Ezard said.

But it seems the government is standing firm on its approach.

“Welfare recipients who test positive will not lose a single cent of their payment but will be placed on Income Management for a period of 24 months which will quarantine 80 per cent of their welfare payment on to the Basics Card which prevents spending on drugs, alcohol and gambling,” the government’s memo stated.

“The remaining 20 per cent will be deposited in their regular account.

“It is disappointing to note the fear-mongering around the government’s proposed drug testing trial which is a genuine attempt to help unemployed Australians overcome substance abuse, which is a barrier to work,” the memo said.

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