Government Senator Dean Smith becomes latest to support Newstart increase in today’s Senate debate

Government Senator Dean Smith has expressed support for an increase to Newstart in the Senate today, becoming the latest member of the Government to add to the growing support for an increase to Newstart in the Parliament, the business sector and the community.
Senator Smith, who is Chief Government Whip in the Senate, cited John Howard’s support for an increase to Newstart and the Reserve Bank Governor’s view that it would be helpful economic stimulus.
Australian Council of Social Service Acting CEO Jacqui Phillips said:
“In the Government and across the Parliament, more and more political leaders are heeding the long-standing calls from the community and the business sector to finally raise Newstart after 25 years without a real increase.”
The contributions by Senators Siewert, Dodson and Waters, during the debate of the Greens’ Private Members Bill to increase Newstart, Youth Allowance and other payments by $75 per week, have helped to dispel misconceptions about the realities of trying to get by on Newstart.
The Australian Council of Social Service has today released a fact check brief to bust myths about Newstart and Acting CEO Jacqueline Phillips said:
“Community members and journalists are rightly asking members of the Government whether they could live on $40 a day.
“The Government cannot continue to avoid the question by spreading misconceptions.
“People on Newstart are actively looking for paid work – they apply for 20 jobs a month – but the reality is, there is only one job available for every eight people looking for a job or more hours.
“While some in the Government claim most people on Newstart receive other payments, they neglect to explain that this is due to the energy supplement, which is less than $1 a day.
“Less than half of people on Newstart receive Rent Assistance, which is about $10 a day, if you spend at least $150 a week on housing. Less than 20% of people on Newstart receive a family tax benefit, which goes to helping cover the cost of raising children.
“When we look at who is on Newstart, we see that half of recipients are over the age of 45; more than 100,000 are single parents; and one in four have an illness or disability but cannot get the Disability Support Pension.
“Older people, people with disability and single parents face challenges and discrimination in finding paid work and this is part of the reason why the average time spent on Newstart is three years.
“The reality for people on Newstart is that they are in living in deep financial crisis that severely restricts their chance of finding paid work. It is very hard to put your best foot forward in a job interview when you’re eating one meal a day, wearing worn-through clothing, and are worrying about how to pay rent.”

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