Reprieve for Newstart recipients but the budget threat remains

14 September 2016

Responding to the Government and Labor’s renegotiated Omnibus Bill, ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie says that while the retention of the Energy Supplement for those receiving social security payments is welcome news, the threat of further cuts to people who are unemployed and families on low incomes remains.

“It is unfortunate we have had to debate whether or not to cut the $38-per-day Newstart Allowance by removing the Energy Supplement. We should be focussing on how to increase the payment so people can live with dignity while looking for work.

“We also welcome the removal of measures that would have cut funding to public dental services and cut income support payments to people in psychiatric confinement. We call on the Federal Government to not seek to introduce any of the measures removed from the Omnibus Bill separately, there has already been too much uncertainty for people on low incomes.

“Removing these measures from the Bill is sensible and we’re pleased that Labor and the Government has listened to concerns from a wide variety of stakeholders who opposed these cuts.

“While people on income support payments have been spared from the proposed cuts, low income families will still be hurt by the loss of the Energy Supplement from family payments. A single parent family with two teenage children will lose $284 a year, or $5.50 a week.

“The loss of the energy supplement to families follows a series of cuts to these payments over the last few years. We cannot afford to further cut away at family payments.

“If passed, the Government’s remaining family payment bill would result in single parent families with two teenage children losing $60 a week.

“The youth payment cuts which remain before the Parliament would result in an unemployed young person losing $47 a week and having to wait 4 weeks for payments.

“Parliament and the community have shown that they will not support harsh cuts to those on low incomes. The Government must reset its budget strategy, by withdrawing proposed tax cuts as well as further cuts to family and youth payments and other measures which will hurt those on low incomes.

“ACOSS is yet to see the detail in the new legislation but urges Government to not rush these changes through Parliament. The community must have time to properly scrutinise these revised measures.”

Media contact: Anthony Reed – 0419 626 155