ACOSS welcomes social security commission bill and single parent review

20 August 2018

Monday August 20, 2018: Two private members bills to reduce poverty and inequality were introduced into Parliament today.

Cathy McGowan introduced a bill to establish a social security commission, which has long been ACOSS policy. Andrew Wilkie introduced a bill to review the impact of removing Parenting Payment Single from single parents when their youngest child has turned eight, which data suggest has contributed to an increase in the rate of child poverty.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie welcomes these private member bills.

“We warmly welcome Cathy McGowan’s bill to establish an independent social security commission, a policy that ACOSS has long called for.

“This commission would guide the parliament on the rates of income support payments, helping to ensure that payments are adequate and that indexation settings are right.

“Such a body has broad support amongst the community sector, which sees every day the impact of inadequate social security payments.

“Newstart and Youth Allowance are indexed to CPI only, and, as a result, they do not cover the cost of the essentials. Newstart is now $175 per week less than the pension and has not been increased above CPI in 24 years.

“This is why people, including 110,000 single parents ineligible for Parenting Payment Single, struggle to keep the lights on and put food on the table.

“We also welcome Andrew Wilkie’s Bill to review the impact of the cut to single parents’ incomes when their youngest child turns eight and they are moved onto Newstart.

“This review will hopefully shed some light on the terrible effect of drastically cutting single parents’ income. Child poverty increased by around 2 percentage points in the ten years to 2013-14, and a succession of family payment cuts is only making it harder for single parents to feed their children and give them the best start in life.

“ACOSS calls for Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments to be immediately increased by $75 per week and indexed to wages to help people keep the lights on and put food on the table. A social security commission would then guide the parliament on next steps for these payments to ensure they do not again fall behind.

“We congratulate Ms McGowan and Mr Wilkie for putting up these bills, which aim to reduce poverty and inequality in Australia and acknowledge and welcome the support of Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie who has backed both.”