Federal Government MP Pat Conaghan has come out in support of an increase to Newstart, citing concerns over child poverty, in a move warmly welcomed by the Australian and New South Wales Councils of Social Service.
Mr Conaghan, a Nationals MP who represents the New South Wales mid-north coast electorate of Cowper, joins a growing number of other government members who have spoken out on the need for an increase, including Barnaby Joyce, Dean Smith and Matthew Canavan, as well as NSW Deputy Leader and NSW Nationals Leader John Barilaro.
As reported by the ABC, Mr Conaghan said Newstart should be increased, commenting:
“This is something that I think should be at the top of my priority list because you’ve got kids that are going to school without food. Forty-one per cent of kids under 15 [years of age] in both Kempsey and Nambucca are under the poverty line.”
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“It’s not right that in Australia, one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we have one in six children living below in the poverty line.
“One third of single parent families live in poverty in Australia and we know how hard it is for single parents, who are mostly women, to get by on Newstart while looking for paid work that allows for their caring responsibilities.
“By increasing Newstart, the government can reduce our unacceptable adult and child poverty rates, while boosting the economy to create jobs, especially in regional areas.
“In the wake of the devastating bushfires and drought, regional communities are really struggling and increasing Newstart is one of the best ways to kick start these local economies, creating jobs.
Analysis by Deloitte Access Economics shows increasing Newstart would create 12,000 jobs in one year.
New South Wales Council of Social Service CEO Joanna Quilty said:
“I congratulate Mr Conaghan for speaking out on behalf of his regional New South Wales community. It’s clear that regional communities in New South Wales are doing it really tough.
“Our Economic Disadvantage in New South Wales study, which was conducted before the horrific bushfires, found that being a single parent in regional NSW is particularly challenging – ten regional locations featured poverty rates of over 50% (and up to 65.6%) for this group.
“We’re a wealthy state in a wealthy country but our economy is leaving people behind and this must change, especially for the sake of the one in six kids in our state living in poverty.”