Government must act now on the many, diverse calls for ongoing Newstart increase for everyone locked out of paid work

19 March 2020

In the face of severe downturn, ACOSS reiterates the broad, immense support for an ongoing increase to Newstart and related payments, calling on the Government to include in its second stimulus package an increase to Newstart and other allowances, of at least a $95 per week, so that everyone who is getting locked out of paid work can cover the costs of essentials.

“Right now, people locked out of paid work fear how they will keep a roof over their head and put food on the table. People without paid work were already struggling to afford these basics before this crisis,” Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.

“People relying on Newstart or Youth Allowance include young people tyring to get thier foot in the door of the job market, older people, people with disability, and single parents juggling caring responsibilities – they are on Newstart due to a lack of employment opportunities and discrimination.

“We are shocked by a report in the AFR today that some people could get less financial help than others, on some spurious notion of ‘fault’ or ‘no fault’ unemployment.

“We need to fix our safety net so that it is safe for everyone, and it can be relied upon by everyone for adequate support during potentially long periods of unemployment. Just as $40 a day is not enough for people who lose work due to the coronavirus outbreak, it’s not enough for those who’ve already been struggling to get by on Newstart with no savings.

“Newstart has not been increased in real terms in 26 years and we know that $40 a day is simply not enough to get by at any time, but especially in the current crisis and as the economy rebuilds.

“We’ve recently seen New Zealand permanently increase its income support payments in the face of the current health and economic crisis.

“Now, more than ever, we need a permanent increase to Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments of at least $95 a week to give people some certainty at this deeply troubling time and to provide the confidence that the economy will need to rebuild.

“We urge the Government to listen to the many diverse voices calling for Newstart to be permanently raised as it prepares the second stimulus package,” Dr Goldie said.

Those who’ve said Newstart should increase for social and/or economic reasons:

•    Business Council of Australia
•    Council of Small Business of Australia
•    ACTU
•    Australian Industry Group
•    Grattan Institute
•    The Country Women’s Association
•    Australian Medical Association
•    The Australia Institute
•    Group of Eight Universities
•    Community Sector Organisations
•    National Rural Health Alliance
•    Cancer Council of Australia
•    KPMG
•    Deloitte Access Economics
•    CEDA
•    Australian Investment Council
•    National Union of Students
•    Australian Services Union
•    Per Capita
•    GetUp!
•    The Lismore local Chamber of Commerce

•    Dr Brendan Rynne, KPMG
•    Chris Richardson, Deloitte Access Economics
•    Nicki Hutley, Deloitte
•    Michael Blythe, CBA Chief Economist
•    Sarah Hunter, Chief Economist for BIS Oxford Economics
•    Alan Oster, Chief Economist NAB
•    Dr Shane Oliver, AMP Chief Economist
•    Saul Eslake
•    Adam Triggs ANU
•    Angela Jackson, Equity Economics
•    Trent Wiltshire, Domain

•    Alan Kohler
•    John Howard
•    Dick Smith
•    Dr Kerryn Phelps
•    Gerard Henderson, Sydney Institute
•    John Roskam, IPA
•    Steve Price
•    Ben Fordham
•    Waleed Aly
•    Derryn Hinch
•    Father Rod Bower
•    Father Bob
•    Mark Carnegie

Coalition politicians
•    Barnaby Joyce
•    Matthew Canavan
•    Dean Smith
•    Russell Broadbent
•    Pat Conaghan
•    Arthur Sinodinos

•    Jacqui Lambie
•    Andrew Wilkie
•    Zali Steggall
•    Helen Haines
•    Bob Katter

Political parties
•    ALP
•    The Greens
•    Centre Alliance

State/Territory governments
•    NSW (Deputy Premier John Barilaro)
•    QLD
•    ACT
•    NT
•    WA
•    TAS
47 Local Governments