Senate Committee agrees – we must permanently increase income support

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Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) welcomes the Senate Inquiry report into the Adequacy of Newstart, released yesterday (Thursday 30 April). This report recommends a permanent increase to the JobSeeker (formerly Newstart), Youth Allowance and Parenting Payments.

The Committee recommends the payments be increased once the Coronavirus Supplement is phased out.

QCOSS CEO Aimee McVeigh says it is encouraging to see the Australian Senate confirm that the JobSeeker and associated payments are inadequate.

“The Senate committee heard from vulnerable people across Australia, including Queenslanders, about their daily realities of trying to get by – skipping meals, forgoing medication, turning off essential household items like fridges, fans and air conditioners to save electricity, and struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

“We know that of the twelve Senators who spent time on the committee, there was no representation from Queensland Senators. We hope that all our Senators take the time to read the report’s important findings and understand the implications of not raising the JobSeeker payment permanently for the hundreds of thousands of Queenslanders that now find themselves out of work.”

Ms McVeigh also commented on the need to keep the COVID supplement beyond the original six-month commitment to September.

“Cutting people’s already low incomes down and expecting them to live off $40 a day is unconscionable and will take the economy even further backwards.

“By the government’s own figures, up to 1.7 million people are expected to be unemployed by September. We know there are at least 130,000 Queenslanders now out of work due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Even when we get a vaccine or can loosen lockdown restrictions, we aren’t going to see the unemployment rate suddenly snap back to pre-COVID levels. It will take a while for people to find new work.

“No-one should have to choose between putting food on the table or keeping the lights on. Now more than ever we need a decent social security safety net in place that works at all times.”

Key recommendations included:

  • Increase JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, and Parenting Payment
  • Review Commonwealth Rent Assistance to ensure it significantly improves rental affordability
  • Establish a national definition of poverty

Read the Senate Inquiry Report 

1 May 2020