A federal government MP is standing by his accusation that dole recipients are trying to “screw the system”.
Ken O’Dowd reportedly told a community forum in his central Queensland electorate of Flynn this week: “You won’t get anyone on the dole coming to these sort of meetings, because they don’t care about the community, they care about themselves and how they can screw the system”.
The MP’s remarks were made shortly before the announcement of a government review of welfare payments.
Mr O’Dowd also told the forum about a recent conversation he had with billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart, in which she voiced her concerns about the welfare system.
She told him that 60 per cent of Australians were on some sort of welfare payment, questioning whether they were all that “badly off”.
Mr O’Dowd was not taking a backward step on Thursday as his remarks received wider coverage than a local newspaper.
[polldaddy poll=7738247]But he insisted his accusation was aimed at long-term unemployed people receiving the disability support pension who “deliberately try to be on the dole”.
“People who are fit and able to work, they are the people who are trying to screw the system,” he said.
Mr O’Dowd said he knew first-hand of people who preferred to be on the dole and who made unfair dismissal claims when they were sacked from jobs.
“These are the sort of people they’ve got to crack down on.”
The MP said welfare recipients in his electorate could take on jobs now done by seasonal workers and backpackers.
Social Services Minister Kevin Andrews said Mr O’Dowd’s comments did not reflect the government’s position.