Following a ACOSS/UNSW report released today highlighting the inadequacy of Australia’s social security system and the depth of poverty for people on income support, the Greens are again calling on Labor to raise Jobseeker and all pensions above the poverty line to $88 a day in May’s budget.
As stated by Senator Janet Rice, Greens social services spokesperson and Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee’s inquiry into poverty:
“Today’s findings are more evidence for what is already beyond clear: Australia’s social security system is not fit-for-purpose.
“With 1 in 8 Australians living in poverty, the Labor Government can’t keep burying their heads in the sand and continue to ignore the millions of renters, single parents, students, women, and people with a disability all doing it tough.
“Young people are once again being hit hardest, with households on Youth Allowance being in the deepest poverty at almost $400 a week below the poverty line.
“When students are living in poverty, they aren’t able to focus on their studies or prosper at uni. The stress of not knowing how you’ll feed yourself or pay your rent can be overwhelming, and many are forced to drop out.
“The Labor Government is robbing young people of their future.
“When one in five renters, and the majority of people on Jobseeker and Parenting Payments are living in poverty, the government cannot keep pretending social security payments are adequate.
“The Labor Government has found $368 billion to spend on nuclear submarines and $254 billion in Stage 3 tax cuts for the rich, but nothing for people struggling to pay rent and put food on the table. Labor need a reality check.
“Labor say they’re on the side of struggling Australians – it’s time they show it, and use that money to make life a bit easier for people doing it tough.
“Instead of spending over $600 billion on nuclear submarines and tax cuts for billionaires, we should raise all social security payments above the poverty line to $88 a day, get dental and mental health into Medicare, and build enough public homes to clear the waitlist.
“Poverty is a policy choice. Labor should choose wisely.