Senate Vote to Increase Income Support Payments Fails
14 August 2017 at 4:20 pm
The Senate has voted against an increase to the Newstart and Youth Allowance payments by $110 a fortnight, with Labor voting with the Coalition to defeat the bill presented by the Australian Greens.
Senator Rachel Siewert said she was “extremely disappointed” the Senate did not support the bill.
“It is well recognised that the payment is too low,” Siewert said on Monday.
“Both parties have refused to increase income support payments that have not gone up in real time for years. The social services sector and business have called for a meaningful increase to these payments so that people trying to find work aren’t forced into poverty.
“Just weeks ago Bill Shorten said ‘inequality kills hope’ when announcing that reducing disparity would be his defining mission if he won government.”
Siewert said that “unfortunately all the ALP could do was commit to a review of Newstart and other payments”.
“We don’t need a further review to know payments are too low, there have been reports and inquiries including two Senate inquiries that have found these payments are too low, how many more inquiries do they need?” she said.
Labor Senator Doug Cameron told the Senate they knew that Newstart was “too low”.
“We know that too many Australians are living below the poverty line,” Cameron said.
“I’d dearly love to see an increase to Newstart, but this bill isn’t the right way of going about it.
“The Greens know that the appropriations bills in the house have to be introduced by a minister. Yet they introduce this bill in the Senate and give so many Australians false hope that Newstart might be increased.
“Labor wants a comprehensive and independent review into the adequacy of Newstart that we think should be done against two primary objectives: one, alleviating poverty and, two, encouraging work.”
Last week the City of Port Adelaide Enfield became the first local government in Australia to publicly advocate for an increase in the Newstart allowance.
The council decision came after weeks of lobbying by Anti-Poverty Network SA, local residents, welfare recipients, and others.
Anti-Poverty Network SA spokesperson Pas Forgione said: “The City of Port Adelaide Enfield has demonstrated courage and leadership by sticking up for its unemployed residents – residents living in poverty and struggling to find work in a very tough labour market.
“We are glad they recognised the strong arguments for why Newstart needs to be raised. Good for the local community, good for local business, good for local job-seekers – it’s a no-brainer.
“We hope other councils will follow. While only the federal government can raise Newstart, there is a need for councils to speak up, alongside the many business, community, welfare, and union groups calling for Newstart to be raised.”