Wednesday, 22 February 2017

What were they thinking?

The  Sydney Morning Herald, 15 February 2017:

What were they thinking? On Monday three members of cabinet called a press conference to pressure the Senate to cut the dole. That's right, to cut the dole. At just $13,750 per year plus an $8.80 per fortnight energy allowance, it's already so low the Business Council believes it "presents a barrier to employment and risks entrenching poverty." The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the research arm of the world's richest economies, says Australia's unemployment benefit has reached the point where it may no longer be effective in "enabling someone to look for a suitable job".

Even a Coalition-dominated inquiry found a "compelling case" for boosting it.

But the three ministers wanted to deny the energy supplement to new entrants on the spurious ground that this would merely remove "carbon tax compensation for a carbon tax that no longer exists". It wouldn't. The Newstart cost of living increase was cut 0.7 per cent when the energy supplement came in to avoid double counting. If the energy supplement went but the cut remained, new entrants to Newstart would be worse off than if the whole thing had never happened.

And they wanted to withhold Newstart from newly-unemployed Australians aged 22 to 25, paying them instead the lower $11,375 Youth Allowance. The under 25s would have to wait longer too – five weeks instead of the present one.

Rather than spend time arguing the merits of cutting a benefit already so low it can barely be lived on, Treasurer Scott Morrison, Social Services Minister Christian Porter and Education Minister Simon Birmingham delivered instead what amounted to a threat: if the Senate didn't cut the unemployment benefit, they might not fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

But not at first. In a burlesque twist, they opened the press conference spruiking the case for an unfunded massive company tax cut.

* Images found at Google Images

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