With Federal Parliament this week set to debate the Government’s plan to cut income support at Christmas time, ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie is in Canberra. She will be delivering a sample of the hundreds of holiday cards being sent in by people on JobSeeker and supporters urging the Government to put in place a permanent and adequate base rate of JobSeeker, rather than cuts and short term measures.
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said:
“This Christmas is set to be a devastating one for millions, with record-high unemployment.
“There is currently only one job vacancy available for every 12 people without a job or enough hours, with even fewer jobs in regional areas.
“Even though so many are struggling to find paid work, the Government is cutting income support at Christmas time, almost taking us back to the old, brutal Newstart rate.
“From the end of the year, people on JobSeeker will receive only $50 a day, just $10 more than the old, unliveable Newstart rate. JobSeeker will be cut down to just 48% of the minimum wage. Newstart had not been increased in real terms in more than a quarter of a century.
“To make matters worse, the Government has not ruled out going back to the old, brutal Newstart rate of just $40 a day in March.
“The financial distress and insecurity is wreaking havoc on people’s mental health and leaving them to face impossible decisions, including whether they’ll be able to afford to live in their homes next year.
“More than one million children are in homes impacted by the cut at Christmas time and by the ongoing insecurity.
“People and families need the security of knowing that they will be able to cover the basics in order to rebuild their lives.
“This is why we need a permanent increase to the base rate of JobSeeker of at least $25 a day more than the old Newstart rate so that people can cover the basics – housing, food, bills, and transport.
“This would bring the payment only just above the poverty line, but closer to the pension rate, as it used to be.
“As we rebuild from the crisis, we can’t turn our back on those who are being left behind.”