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‘The evidence is in’: Australians want an increase to Newstart

23 April 2019 at 8:26 am
Wendy Williams
The majority of Australians agree there should be an increase to Newstart, a new poll has shown.

Wendy Williams | 23 April 2019 at 8:26 am


‘The evidence is in’: Australians want an increase to Newstart
23 April 2019 at 8:26 am

The majority of Australians agree there should be an increase to Newstart, a new poll has shown.

The Essential Research poll, commissioned by the Australian Council of Social Service, found as many as 72 per cent of people agreed that the unemployment benefit should be increased to cover basic living costs and to help people search for jobs.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said the “evidence was in” and the polling confirmed there was widespread support for Newstart to be increased.

“Newstart is not working – $40 per day is too low to give people the support they need to get through tough times and into suitable paid work,” Goldie said.

“While the Labor opposition agrees Newstart is too low and promises a review in order to increase it we don’t need a review to know that Newstart must be urgently increased.”  

Newstart has not risen in real terms for more than two decades.

While the Greens support the push for the payment to be raised, both major parties have fallen short of committing to an increase.

In a recent interview with Pro Bono News, Labor MP Andrew Leigh underlined his party’s commitment to a careful independent review but said this process would “ultimately lead to an increase in the payment”.

The Coalition remains staunchly opposed to lifting Newstart in real terms.

Following the latest poll, Goldie reiterated calls for a new federal government to urgently deliver “an absolute minimum” of $75 per week to the single rate of allowances plus indexation to wages.

She also said it was “not the time for tax cuts” – something which was backed up by the poll, with the majority of respondents expressing concerns about the tax cuts announced in the budget.

Of the nearly 1,000 respondents surveyed, 67 per cent agreed middle income earners would be better off with secure funding for such services than with a $20 per week tax cut.

The poll also showed that 66 per cent of respondents agreed that it was not fair to give people on $200,000 a year a $200 a week tax cut.

Goldie said people on low and middle incomes ended up paying the price of tax cuts in the form of funding cuts to essential services, such as health, education and aged care.

“Instead of treating the election as a tax-cut auction, the community wants political leaders to commit to safeguarding quality essential services and to giving those on the lowest incomes the support they need by finally increasing Newstart after 25 years without a real increase,” she said.

As part of its community services policy for this federal election, ACOSS has called on all parties to commit to a $2 billion annual boost to funding for community services, and to address some of the key funding and regulatory challenges that the sector faces.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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