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Australians Support a Rise in the Newstart Allowance

24 April 2012 at 4:36 pm
Staff Reporter
The Gillard Government and Opposition are out of step with community attitudes towards welfare payments with a new survey showing that Australians support an $84 increase to the Newstart Allowance.

Staff Reporter | 24 April 2012 at 4:36 pm


Australians Support a Rise in the Newstart Allowance
24 April 2012 at 4:36 pm

The Gillard Government and Opposition are out of step with community attitudes towards welfare payments with a new survey showing that Australians support an $84 increase to the Newstart Allowance.

Most Australians believe that the current Newstart Allowance is far too low to meet the most basic costs of living the survey reveals.

When asked how much money a single adult needs to meet the cost of living, respondents indicated that on average $454 is required – almost twice the amount currently received by Newstart recipients.

When asked how much a single unemployed adult should receive per week from Centrelink, respondents indicated that on average $329 would be desirable.

The Australia Institute’s Executive Director Dr Richard Denniss said unemployment benefits in Australia are amongst the lowest in the world.

“There are more than 600,000 unemployed people in Australia, and when workers lose their jobs through no fault of their own, as was the case with Toyota last week, the Newstart Allowance is often the only safety net they have. Unfortunately, a safety net of only $245 per week is often not nearly enough to stop people hitting rock bottom,” said Dr Denniss.

Survey respondents were also asked how their spending patterns would likely change if they were required to live on the Newstart Allowance. The vast majority of people said that they would drive their car less (83%), use less energy (77%) and buy less fresh food (63%).

Director of Research David Baker said it was concerning many respondents had also indicated that they would be less likely to participate in education or training.

“There are potentially so many detrimental knock-on effects of having the Newstart Allowance so low. It forces people to redefine discretionary spending and when that means they no longer spend money on education or training, which would increase their chance of escaping unemployment, this should be a wake-up call to the government,” said Mr Baker.

A copy of 'Are unemployment benefits adequate in Australia?' can be downloaded here


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  • B.TAM says:

    The current benefit payment is not sufficient to make ends meet at all! Politicians should live by that amount of money themselves for three months so that they have a first hand experience of what it is like living under such little bits.
    They would not be prepared to change their mind until they taste it themselves and see how tough life it when being put under such circumstances to no fault to the workers (as I got laid off also in 2008 when the Global Financial Crisis together with company mismanagement took place at the same time).
    The well-off should not take their positions and salary packages for granted or use them to take advantage of the poor and needy receiving welfare just to get by each day. Instead they should be their advocate to advance the cause of equity and justice to all.

  • The problem is that for the new people who come to Australia as immigrants with permanent residence, there is no Newstart Allowance at all. Ok, one may say that you just come to Australia, and you want money from citizens who paid taxes. However, guys – those immigrants quit their jobs, paid over 3.500 for the visa and trying to start life in totally new society. But without local experience and references, it’s impossible to find any job in Australia – they are too smart to work as a labour and have rubbish English to work as a pro. By the way, 175 visa requirement does not mean that permanent resident must show 20.000/single compared to 176 visa.
    Why not make a system with 6 month Newstart Immigrants Allowance? It’s more than enough to finish some PPP course and start working.

  • Anonymous says:

    I know I am going to create some controversy here but I think Newstart should be assessed over your past three years salary. I earned $150K then was left unemployed. I I built up to this salary over many years. My lifestyle followed. My mortgage got bigger. My kids went to private school. I also paid lots of tax. The newstart of $20K for me is ridiculous. I believe it should be based on 70% of your last wage for a minimum three months. A person over 50 with dependents should get it for up to 12 months because it is much harder to be re employed. A person on a higher salary should not have to sell everything they worked for and use up their entire savings just to qualifiy for the minimum $20K newstart allowance. Most wont bother. Yet a person on the minimum wage or no wage to speak of gets the same as a person who was on $150K. If we put this in perspective how about we say OK, a person on $150K after all the tax they paid is worth just $20K a year Newstart allowance, then a person on $30K with all the tax they paid is worth just $4K Newstart allowance. It would be more equal wouldnt it? That person on $4K would find it as hard to live as I do. I have been unemployed for over two years and claimed no newstart allowanced even though I have paid many times over in tax what I would be claiming in Newstart. Why isnt the system responsive to those who need it? Why after earning all of my qualifications and doing the hard yards to get ahead am I treated exactly the same as a person on the minimum wage who has nowhere near the debt, the responsibilities, the mortgage and so on that I would have built up?

    • Jimbo says:

      Is this comment a joke? You have got to be kidding right? The newstart allowance is so low that people on the fringes are struggling to even feed their families properly and have only enough money for the shittiest of rental housing out there. A lot of these people wouldn’t even DREAM about ever earning 150k a year, or owning a house. YOU got yourself into debt buddy. These people are on the brink homelessness and some days have to decide WHICH meal they can afford to give their kids, while you complain about the system being fair? Good grief.

  • Jonathan M says:

    For a 55 yr-old like me, too healthy (I assume) to be eligible for the DSP, but with health issues that have led to a patchy employment history, I have had to rely largely on Newstart Allowance (or Austudy when I sought to improve my job prospects through formal study) for several years. I continue to apply for jobs/have interviews but thus far, unsuccessfully. Its so depressing and frustrating to be completely broke and asset-less at my age. Newstart MUST be increased for the long-term unemployed. But this government seem to have other priorities, and I fear for my future under a Coalition government (many of their supporters would assume people like me are either rare, or alternatively, ‘bludgers’: both are untrue).

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