Government unemployment benefit rise “all show, no go”

It was disappointing to see an announcement on JobSeeker by the Morrison Government today that was “all show, no go” and will leave hundreds of thousands of Australians to languish far below the poverty line, Anglicare Victoria CEO Paul McDonald said today.

Mr McDonald said that after more than two decades without a rise in the rate of unemployment benefits, today’s announcement by the Morrison Government amounts to an average increase of less than 20 cents per year for job seekers.

“This announcement comes after a year which saw a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots during the pandemic. The rich stayed home and got richer, the poor lost their casual and insecure jobs and struggled to make ends meet,” Mr McDonald said.

“It is good to see the government acknowledge that the unemployment rate needed to rise, but $4 a day is not enough to address the kind of poverty which leads to people regularly skipping meals so their kids can eat. About one in six children live in poverty in Australia, and this will do absolutely nothing to change that.”

“Further, today’s announcement is a failure of imagination from the politicians in the Federal Government, who clearly have not met enough people struggling with poverty and unemployment to understand what is needed to help turn their lives around. This rate should have been lifted to the poverty line as a bare minimum.”

“And while it is good to see the income-free threshold increased slightly so that people can obtain casual work without penalty, this should have been raised even higher.”

Mr McDonald said the government was not prepared to tackle measures like negative gearing which makes housing increasingly unaffordable for those on low incomes, while moving to punish those who were unable to make ends meet.

“The increased payments during the pandemic gave hope to the unemployed that they might be able to stop queuing up for emergency relief and begin to dig their way out of poverty. This announcement has taken that hope away again for almost 2 million Australians.”

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