$50 per fortnight JobSeeker rise fails unemployed Australians

23 Feb 2021
Job Seeker fail 2021

Centre Alliance’s Social Services Spokesperson Rebekha Sharkie has renewed her call for an independent body to review government payments, saying the Federal Government's announcement of a $50 per fortnight rise in the base rate of JobSeeker will fail Australians looking for work.

“A permanent increase was necessary but this falls far short of what is needed to keep a roof over the heads and food on the table for Australians receiving government payments, and there is no explanation of how the Federal Government came up with this figure," the Member for Mayo said today.

"For a very long time the sector and business groups had been calling for at least a $75 a week increase. Before COVID-19 hit our shores, the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) said $95 a week was the ‘absolute minimum’ people without work needed.

"That's why we need an Independent Social Security Commission whose job it would be to set payments to keep up with the cost of living and changes in Australia’s economic circumstances.

“The economy hasn’t bounced back in many sectors. We need more than a token $25 a week rise, and we need to keep JobKeeper going in vulnerable industries such as tourism, hospitality and travel.

“While I am pleased that the Government has increased the threshold of monies that can be earned before Centrelink payments are cut, the increase of the base rate to $307 a week for single person remains woefully inadequate.

"In my regional electorate you cannot rent a single property, not even a two-bedroom flat, for $280 a week.

"To take people back to $307 a week, as winter is approaching, is deeply concerning. Even with rent assistance, we will see more single people and more families relying on charities for emergency assistance to make ends meet."

Rebekha said Centre Alliance was also concerned that the Government had not factored in the cost of their announced increased mutual obligations.

"While supporting people to access training and work experience placement is important, we must ensure that support also includes extra financial assistance to get to the training and work placement," Rebekha said.

"It costs money to actively look for work. It costs money for internet and stationery, to get a bus to training - and that is if you are lucky enough to have public transport nearby.

"Twenty five dollars a week doesn't even cover bus fares for the day.

“We can do better as a nation and I believe the Government has demonstrated we can afford to do better as a nation.

“It's also going to affect small businesses, because money circulates in the economy. When payments were increased everyone benefited and more money was spent locally.

“People won't be going to the butchers or the local fruit and veg stores. There’s going to be a hit in local economies.

“The big winners will be the payday lenders, the pawn shops and the buy-now pay-later schemes. I fear this lowly increase is going to entrench debt and entrench hardship.

“It's unnecessary, short-sighted and it's really bad for the wider economy."

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