Neoliberal Welfare Reform and 'Rights' Compliance Under Australian Social Security Law
Australian Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 12, No. 1, pp. 223-255, 2006
36 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2006
Recent neoliberal reforms to Australian social security and labour law privilege individual industrial bargaining and adopt a 'job-first' policy for welfare recipients, which exposes them to greater market pressures. This builds on earlier Howard conservative government reforms such as the privatisation of job matching services, insistence on mutual obligation and workfare expectations of the social security clients, and intensification of loss of payment penalties for compliance breaches. This article examines the extent to which social security decisionmaking in Australia is favourably influenced by international treaties which include social security among the social and economic rights sought to be protected. It is argued that rights to social security are of their nature weak and sometimes internally conflicted, but this is compounded by their more limited purchase in Australian law. Consequently international law has been of less assistance in protecting social security rights within Australia than is the case internationally.
Keywords: social security, human rights, welfare-to-work, reform
JEL Classification: I38, K10, A13, D63, H55
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