August 29, 2017

A Northern Territory Government MP says people are begging him for emergency help because of a troubled work-for-the-dole scheme.

Chansey Paech represents Namatjira — a vast electorate covering part of Alice Springs and communities further south.

Appearing before a Senate inquiry into the Federal Government's Community Development Program, Mr Paech said CDP was a "national shame".

Fines imposed under the program had left people with "no form of income or no stable income", he told the committee.

"You will often get calls from people in the community where they are stuck, they've been breached and they need money to buy the bare essentials," he said.

"People coming into town for a medical appointment are being breached and are unable to get back, so it's working in to help them [get] transportation home."

Mr Paech said he used his annual electorate allowance of $78,000 to help constituents, including giving them Coles and Woolworths gift cards to purchase food.

The Turnbull Government has slapped more than 300,000 in fines on CDP participants in two years.

People are stripped a day's Centrelink allowance if they miss work-for-the-dole activities or are late.

Remote unemployed people must work five hours each weekday — up to three times longer than city-based jobseekers.

The committee yesterday heard the fine system was impractical because people often needed to travel long distances for medical appointments, cultural activities and just to go shopping.

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