Local News

Malcolm Turnbull defends giving $5 to a homeless man

It was a human reaction.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called his decision to put $5 in the cup of a Melbourne beggar a “human reaction”, despite the city’s lord mayor previously advising people not to do so as it contributes to a cycle of homelessness.

On Wednesday Mr Turnbull was photographed giving a homeless man money while arriving to give his speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia.

This morning the PM was asked by 3AW radio host Neil Mitchell why he gave the man money when people are advised not to do so.

“I know people have got different views on that, but every time I see someone in that situation I always think, ‘There for the grace of God go I’,” Mr Turnbull said.

“It was a human reaction and I’m sorry if that has disappointed some people. Maybe they think you shouldn’t give money to people who are sitting on the street.

The PM added: “Neil, I felt sorry for the guy and I think that we should all remember, ‘There but for the grace of God goes me’.”

In 2014 Mr Turnbull, then the Communications Minister, joined about 100 of the ACT’s top business and community leaders spent a night sleeping out in the Canberra cold to raise money to help fight homelessness.

Mr Turnbull’s recent actions are at odds with Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle who has continually asked people not to give money to the city’s beggars – suggesting they give their money to Melbourne’s buskers instead.

Just this year in an opinion piece written by Mr Doyle the mayor said, “Melburnians are a generous lot, but please don’t give money to beggars – give it to the service providers like The Salvation Army and Melbourne City Mission.”

He added: “If you give money, food, clothing, blankets and other goods to the homeless, you are entrenching homelessness and making it easier for them to stay on the street.”

According to Homelessness Australia, there are currently 105,237 people in Australia who are homeless. The rate of homelessness (which takes into account population density) is 49 out of every 10,000 people (0.5 per cent of the population).

Punters online have both praised and condemned the PM’s actions – a few have noted that while he generously gave $5 he appeared to have a wad of larger notes in his other hand.

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