Reserve Bank Governor restates support for permanent JobSeeker increase

3 February 2021

ACOSS warmly welcomes the Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe’s continued support for a permanent increase to the JobSeeker payment.

Answering questions by media, Dr Lowe said: “I think there is a wide consensus in the community that the previous level (of jobseeker payment) should be increased permanently and I’ve said on previous occasions that I would join that consensus.”

In his speech Dr Lowe stated that:  “despite the positive economic news over recent months, we still have quite a way to go… The unemployment rate is higher today than it has been for almost 2 decades and many people can’t get the hours of work they want.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“The Governor made it clear in his Press Club address today that a permanent increase to JobSeeker should be made on the basis of fairness and that he joins the broad consensus for a permanent increase to be delivered by government.

“Dr Lowe made clear that regardless of the positive economic effects of increasing the payment, the most important factor is that it is the right thing to do in the interest of fairness.”

“Early in the pandemic the Government did the right thing by doubling the old Newstart rate.

“The increased rate meant that people, including families were able to afford their rent and still have enough left over for fresh fruit and vegetables, to visit the dentist or catch up on bills.

“But since then the Government has cut back the rate multiple times. It’s undoing the good work it did last year. And with only 1 job for every 9 people searching, the insecurity is wreaking havoc on people’s mental health and leaving them to face the heart-breaking decision of whether they’ll be able to afford to continue living in their home.

“Business, unions, the community sector, economists and the community all agree that JobSeeker must be permanently lifted.

“As we rebuild from the crisis, we can’t turn our back on those who are at risk of being left behind. That’s why we’re calling for a permanent and adequate increase to the rate of JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support payments, of at least $25 a day more than the old Newstart rate.

“This is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do – we know from Deloitte analysis that going back to the old rate would cost the economy $31.3 billion and 145,000 full-time jobs over the next two years,” Dr Goldie said.

Dr Goldie is available for interview – please call 0419 626 155