A motion from the ALP Conference yesterday failed to commit to an increase, instead promising only a review, but debate continues today with a vote expected this afternoon.
ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said: “We cannot continue to keep people waiting in poverty any longer for a review and the evidence is already in.
“Leading economists have long been calling for an increase, including Ken Henry back in 2010, and Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics.
“Labor has already done a review of the tax and transfer system when it was last in Government. The Henry Review recommended a $50 per week increase back in 2010. That recommendation was then ignored.
“Chris Richardson said today on national radio that we cannot continue to keep treating so many Australians with contempt and that the inadequacy of Newstart is the outstanding failure in the Australian budget.
“People living in poverty have already been forced to bravely share their stories of struggle for years now – we don’t need to put them through this again to know that they desperately need this increase.
“Labor didn’t need a review to commit to $73 billion (over 10 years) in personal income tax cuts for people lucky enough to have a job. This is about twice the cost of raising the rate of Newstart.
“We are putting forward a 2-step reform, which includes an immediate increase to Newstart, Youth Allowance and other payments by $75 a week followed by a review.
“Anything other than a commitment to immediately deliver a substantial increase to Newstart will be a disgrace from the Labor Opposition. You can’t be taken seriously about tackling inequality without providing this relief to people who have the very least in the country,” Dr Goldie said.