Pauline Hanson has some strong feelings about welfare recipients. Here are some things she’s previously said on the matter: that people on welfare are "rorting the system"; that around 80,000 people are faking their disabilities to get payments; and that anyone seeking to claim welfare benefits should be forced to show an Australian proof of identity card. And now there's the latest one: that welfare recipients should be put to work killing cane toads.
The One Nation leader has launched a proposal suggesting that people on the Work for the Dole scheme be made to earn their welfare by collecting cane toads, NewsCorp reports. For Hanson, this federally funded plan is an effective way of killing two birds with one stone: forcing welfare recipients to work for their money while waging an all-out war on Australia’s most infamous pest. Each Work for the Dole foot soldier would be remunerated 10 cents for every toad they collected, which would then be taken to council collection zones and subsequently frozen to death. The campaign would be carried out over three months throughout the course of summer.
“When rabbits plagued our nation, a sizeable reward was posted for the biological control of the species,’’ Hanson said in a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in which she implored him to get on board with the idea. “I believe it is time our federal parliament takes a swift, bipartisan approach into the eradication of this pest species [the cane toad]. I would also encourage you to introduce a three-month bounty over summer months to help reduce the breeding numbers.
“A 10 cent reward for the collection of each cane toad… would encourage most Australians living with the pest to take an active role in reducing their numbers until a biological measure is developed.”
There are currently an estimated 200 million cane toads across Australia: a scourge that regularly kills native wildlife. But a leading expert on the subject of cane toad eradication insists that Hanson’s work-for-welfare battle plan would do little to stem the tide.
“There's tens of thousands of them being hatched on the next rainy night that the toads decide to start fooling around with each other," ecologist Rick Stein told the ABC. "This has been suggested hundreds of times and anyone who's ever thought about it for very long decides it's a terrible idea."
Others, such as Professor Rob Capon from the University of Queensland, have meanwhile pointed out that 10 cents a toad is a pissweak rate of pay when it comes to chasing toads, and is unlikely to incentivise anyone who isn’t already taking part in cane toad eradication to pick up a sack and go hunting.
"The public are happy to do this for free right now and the truth is if you translate the 10 cents per toad down to an hourly rate, you know you're offering to pay people one or two dollars an hour to go and catch toads,” he said.
"Who's going to collect the toads? Are they alive, are they dead? Who's going to take receipt of them?"
Hanson’s plan has been similarly criticised by members of Government.