Monday, 19 November 2018

Will a minority Morrison Government be forced to raise Newstart & Youth Allowances?

Depending on where you live in New South Wales the unemployment rate in September 2018 ranged from 2% to 9%, while youth unemployment went from 4% to 24%.

At the same time employment growth was -3% to barely 10%.

Which means that in September there were est. 195,300 job seekers on Centrelink's books in NSW and only est. 82,400 job vacancies available.

Centrelink Newstart Allowance for a single jobseeker is currently $275.10 per week and Youth Allowance is $222.90 per week for a single jobseeker under 21 years of age.

The million dollar question many people struggling on meagre unemployment benefits in rural and regional NSW will be asking themselves is whether Adam Bandt, Cathy McGowan, Kerryn Phelps, Andrew Wilkie, Rebekha Sharkie, and Bob Katter will use the increased bargaining power which comes to the crossbench in a minority government to force the government's hand on this welfare payment issue. Or will they turn to water?

Here is where the crossbench stands now.....

The NewDaily, 16 November 2018:

Pressure is mounting on the Coalition government to raise the Newstart rate following unanimous lower house crossbench support for a $75 increase.

The Guardian, 16 November 2018:

The entire lower house crossbench has come out in favour of an increase to Newstart, prompting Australia’s peak body for the community services sector to accuse the major parties of being out of touch.

Bob Katter outlined his support for an increase to the unemployment benefit on Friday, saying it would help tackle malnutrition in Indigenous communities.

His statement follows Rebekha Sharkie calling for an increase earlier this week, while the new Wentworth MP Kerryn Phelps committed to raising the payment in a candidates’ survey during the byelection campaign.

Cassandra Goldie, the chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, said the “diverse crossbench’s unity on increasing Newstart confirms just how out of touch the major parties are on this issue”.

“When Adam Bandt, Cathy McGowan, Kerryn Phelps, Andrew Wilkie, Rebekha Sharkie, and Bob Katter all agree, it’s time to stop talking and act,” she said.

Katter said the payment was insufficient for those in regional Queensland, where the cost of finding a job was high.

“If you’re outside of Brisbane, it’s no car, no job,” he said.

Increasing the dole “would go a long way to enabling First Australians to buy fresh fruit and vegetables”.

“You’ve crucified us with the cost of food, you’ve crucified us with the cost of electricity,” he said. “We can’t possibly live on Newstart.”

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has said the government had no plans to increase the payment – currently $275.10 a week – despite an improved budget position, saying “I don’t think you can all of a sudden go ‘oh, let’s make whoopee’”.

He said earlier this month that the government would be more inclined to increase the pension, which stands at $458.15 a week. The pension was increased during the Gillard government while Newstart was last raised in real terms in 1994.

Labor has not committed to lifting Newstart, but signalled it would use a “root and branch review” to argue for an increase.

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