Treasurer states we need a decent social security safety net

In a National Press Club address today, Treasurer Frydenberg has stated that we must ensure “a safety net which is underpinned by a sense of decency and fairness”.

The Australian Council of Social Service CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“We need Governments to have our backs now and for the longer term. We can never go back to the brutality of forcing people to try to survive on $40 a day.

“We welcome the Treasurer’s commitment to securing a social security system underpinned by decency and fairness. This means a safety net that protects people from poverty – people must be able to meet the basic needs of housing, food, utilities and medical costs, and families must have enough to care for their children.

“The JobSeeker payment needs to stay in place until our social security system is fixed. We cannot cut income support from people who desperately need it. .

“Not only is this the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do – it targets cash assistance to those who will definitely spend it in the real economy and will allow people to make the most of job opportunities as the economy rebuilds.

“We need to learn our lessons from the past, and use the best ideas for our future. It would be a huge mistake to cut back on social security which goes to people who need it, and is spent in the real economy. As the Treasurer highlighted, our biggest challenge is on the demand side of the economy, and we need to be smart.

“We look forward to working with the Government on restoring jobs and reducing unemployment, especially long-term unemployment, which the Treasurer also spoke about in his speech today.

“We can create thousands of jobs and reduce homelessness through a public infrastructure program to build social housing.

“We can create even more jobs, cut energy bills and tackle climate change by installing solar and improving energy efficiency in the homes of those who could otherwise not afford this.

“We can train people up, invest in their skills and smarts, so that they can make the most of job opportunities as they start to come back. We can work with employers on creating fair jobs so that the half a million people or more who will end up relying on JobSeeker Payment for over a year – many of whom have disabilities, caring responsibilities, or face age discrimination – are not left behind.

“We need to work together to get through this crisis and to rebuild into a more resilient society that leaves no one behind,” Dr Goldie said.

Read ACOSS’ recovery proposals for economic stimulus