Government must not condemn hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders to live in poverty

Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) welcomes reports the JobKeeper payment will be extended beyond September and the JobSeeker payment is unlikely to be maintained at the pre-pandemic level of $40 per day. 

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh says that this crisis has shown that governments can act to lift people out of poverty and the Australian community will support smart and compassionate action. 

“The COVID supplement has lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty, including children. While we are experiencing a health and economic crisis, many Australians have finally been able to feed their kids, keep a roof over the heads, pay their bills and go to the doctor when they’re sick, Ms McVeigh says. 

The number of people receiving the JobSeeker payment in some Queensland suburbs has tripled between December 2019 and June 2020 – including Brisbane CBD, Bowen Hills-Newstead, Mermaid Beach, Broadbeach, Robina, and Airlie Beach-Whitsunday. 

Latest figures show more than 379,000 Queenslanders were receiving the JobSeeker or Youth Allowance payment as of 30 June 2020.  

Queensland’s unemployment rate is 7.9 per cent, while in some regional areas the unemployment rate has already crept above 10 per cent.  

QCOSS is concerned there will be very real consequences for Queenslanders if the federal government chooses to reduce income support payments 

This recession will be long and hard and its impact will be wide-ranging. With such high unemployment rates, an inadequate JobSeeker payment will cause widespread poverty. Poverty is bad for everyone – its bad for families and kids, our communities and our economy, Ms McVeigh says.   

New QCOSS analysis shows that removing the COVID supplement from the JobSeeker payment will rip $15 million from the Queensland economy every single day.  

The Government is set to announce critical changes to JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, which will impact millions of people. They have the power to ease the pain of this pandemic and to help people and the economy recover, Ms McVeigh says.