The Community Affairs Legislation Committee has tabled its report into the Government’s pitiful Bill to increase the JobSeeker payment by $3.57 a day. The Greens have tabled a dissenting report.
The Australian Greens are deeply disappointed in the lack of time provided to consider and scrutinise this change to Australia’s social security system.
“The Government had months to consider an increase and prepare this legislation with the knowledge that the reduced Coronavirus Supplement was coming to an end on 31 March 2021, but they chose to introduce this Bill as late as possible in an attempt to suppress debate and dissent”, Senator Rachel Siewert said.
“While the Government tries to stifle scrutiny and debate on their callous decision to condemn millions to poverty, the community is watching and they do not accept this cruelty.
“Everyone in our community deserves to live a life free of poverty and to ensure that they can care for their wellbeing and that of their family.
“There were hundreds of submissions to this inquiry. You only have to read a handful to understand the significant pain, anxiety and poverty taking JobSeeker back to $44 a day is going to cause.
“This is not a decision based on evidence but on an ideological obsession with punishing people on income support.
“It’s shameful the way this Government attacks people on income support, calling them job snobs, essentially implying they are undeserving of support.
“At a time when the Government should be focusing on economic recovery, they are making choices that will slow down our recovery from the recession.
“The poverty rate for households whose main source of income is allowances dropped to 26% following the introduction of the $550 a fortnight Coronavirus Supplement. Researchers estimate the poverty rate for these households will skyrocket back up to 85% after this Bill is introduced.
“Researchers at the Grattan Institute estimate that the Government’s plans to cut the rate of Jobseeker Payment by $50 a week will remove $5 billion from the economy over the next year and result in up to 40,000 fewer jobs . Millions will be ripped from the retail sector as people on income support payments spend an estimated 58% of their payments on retail goods or services.
Next week the Greens will seek the support of the senate to:
1. Amend the bill to increase all income support payments to $1115 a fortnight which is in line with the Henderson Poverty Line.
2. Retain the current income free threshold of $300 a fortnight.
3. Abolish compulsory income management.
4. Abolish Mutual Obligations.
The report can be found here.