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Vinnies backflip on Newstart compromise


20 August 2019 at 3:09 pm
Luke Michael
The St Vincent de Paul Society has backtracked on comments suggesting Newstart should only be raised for those over 55, with the charity pledging its support for a $75 increase for all recipients.


Luke Michael | 20 August 2019 at 3:09 pm


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Vinnies backflip on Newstart compromise
20 August 2019 at 3:09 pm

The St Vincent de Paul Society has backtracked on comments suggesting Newstart should only be raised for those over 55, with the charity pledging its support for a $75 increase for all recipients.

The society’s CEO Toby O’Connor said while older Australians faced particular challenges finding work in a tough job market, no particular group of unemployed people was more or less vulnerable than another.

“Our commitment to human dignity means we are concerned for the wellbeing of all people who rely on Newstart to live,” O’Connor said in a statement.

“A growing number of the Coalition are voicing concerns about the inadequacy of Newstart. Perhaps this is a signal that there is a willingness to empathise not only with older unemployed people, as we have seen in recent weeks, but with all recipients of Newstart.”

This statement was issued on Monday, after O’Connor was slammed on social media for telling The Australian the government should consider raising Newstart only for those over 55.

He also suggested welfare groups should be open to a compromise on the $75 a week increase they have long lobbied for.

“Perhaps it’s wise for the government to look at staggering the income support for those folks who are in the upper [age] range and possibly less likely to get work through no fault of their own other than their age,” he said.

“Being a little bit more pragmatic and being open to a lower [rate of increase] is [also] probably something that we need to start having a conversation about.”

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert rejected this call for a Newstart compromise, saying all people on Newstart were suffering and needed help.    

“Both younger and older Australians face barriers to work,” Siewert said.

“This is not about age but a government who is ignoring its responsibilities to unemployed workers, prioritising tax cuts to the most wealthy rather than investing in those in the community that need it most.”

The Greens proposal to raise Newstart by $75 a week for all recipients would cost around $3.3 billion a year.

While Labor recently declared it supports a Newstart boost, the Morrison government remains steadfastly opposed to a payment rise – despite some Coalition backbenchers breaking ranks to voice support for an increase.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston told ABC Radio last week that the government was not interested in raising Newstart but rather was focused on creating jobs for the unemployed.

“The most important thing that we can do [is] to assist people from getting off Newstart and into employment, because we actually believe that people want to get off unemployment and we believe they want to get a job,” Ruston said.

“So that’s why we’re investing and focusing so strongly on employment as our means and our mechanism to assist these people.” 


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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