Nation Building Plan Welcome but more Assistance for Jobless Needed

3 February 2009

ACOSS commends the Government’s action to quickly create jobs and fund infrastructure projects in housing, schools and roads in today’s stimulus package.

Disappointingly, unemployed Australians – who are most affected by an economic downturn – will receive very limited assistance and still must get by on a weekly payment of just $225 a week. ACOSS has been calling for the Newstart payment to be increased by $30 a week and for investment in new employment programs to help unemployed people find work.

“We are delighted that social housing has been given a much needed boost with the promise of 20,000 extra dwellings to be constructed. There is a drastic shortage of public and community housing dwellings and long waiting lists,” said Clare Martin, CEO, Australian Council of Social Service. “More than 750,000 people currently struggle with housing costs and this investment will help some of those Australians get secure housing.”

“The Government is expecting unemployment to rise from 4.5% to 7% next financial year. ACOSS is concerned that those most affected by the downturn have received limited support in the stimulus package. It is only fair that people who are unable to find work get adequate assistance and support and ACOSS has been urging the Government to increase unemployment payments by $30 a week,” said Clare Martin.

“The home insulation program and solar water rebates are welcome steps to create green jobs, lower energy bills and reduce emissions. Low income households will be greatly affected by climate change. We encourage the Government to invest in other energy efficiency measures targeted at low income households such as energy audits and appliance upgrades,” said Lin Hatfield Dodds, President, Australian Council of Social Service.

“We encourage the Government to ensure that all of the new school buildings and homes funded by the stimulus package meet best practice standards in energy efficiency.”

Media Contact: Clare Cameron – 0419 626 155