Parliament fails to ensure Government’s JobSeeker bill keeps people out of poverty

18 March 2021

ACOSS warns of the terrible consequences to follow as the Parliament passed the Government’s JobSeeker legislation without amendment, cutting JobSeeker down to just $44 per day.
Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:
“The Parliament has condemned millions to deep poverty by passing the Government’s bill without amending it to provide people with enough to cover the barest essentials of life.
“At just $44 per day, the paltry rate of JobSeeker set by the Government flies in the face of the sound advice of economists, business leaders, community service providers and indeed the testimonies of hundreds of those impacted who have shared their heart-breaking stories.

“This Bill was the least that the Morrison Government calculated they could ‘get away with’, and despite a Senate Inquiry hearing further comprehensive evidence of the inadequacy of a paltry $44 a day, no amendments were successfully made to the original Bill.

“We thank the Greens, Andrew Wilkie, Helen Haines, Zali Steggall, Centre Alliance, Rex Patrick and Jacqui Lambie for urging the Government to lift payments above the poverty line.

“Today, the Parliament has turned its back on those with the least, plunging people further into poverty. It’s a heartless betrayal of single mothers, people with disability, older people confronting age discrimination, students, people dealing with illness and injury.

“The low rate of JobSeeker will lock women into dangerous situations with no financial escape, including workplace harassment and domestic violence.

“This is a cruel decision that shows a complete lack of humanity and empathy. It comes as devastating news for so many and will have serious consequences for so many people’s lives, including homelessness and crushing debt.

“ACOSS has repeatedly warned the Government and Parliament of the likely terrible consequences that will follow, including people losing homes, going without food, disconnections of power bills, and declining physical and mental health. It is now the Parliament that needs to be held to account until this injustice is fixed.

“I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the courageous people who have bravely shared their stories – you are speaking out for all of us, we are all just one or two life events away from having to rely on our social security system, as this pandemic shows.

“Across the community sector, we are determined to continue working with people on JobSeeker. We stand with them and will continue to strongly advocate for what we know is right,” Dr Goldie said.