Below is a copy of our petition to the Federal Coalition Government asking for Newstart to be immediately increased to the poverty line. Click here to sign it today!
Today, Australia’s unemployment benefit – known as the Newstart Allowance – is around $523 per fortnight.
With the poverty line at $520 per week according to Melbourne Institute, this means that the Newstart Allowance is $390 per fortnight below the poverty line.
As a result, Australia’s unemployment benefit is one of the lowest unemployment benefits in the developed world.
This is a national disgrace.
It has been 21 years since the Newstart Allowance was increased in real terms. The wait has to end now.
Currently there are 700,000 unemployed Australians suffering as a result of the low rate of Newstart.
According to a report from the Australian Council of Social Services, 40 per cent of those on Newstart can’t afford to pay bills on time and 36 per cent spend more money than they receive every week. 55% on Newstart live below the poverty line.
Nearly half can’t afford to go out once a fortnight, have friends over just once a month, can’t afford hobbies and, can’t afford to buy new clothes. Additionally, if this was not bad enough, 25% of those on Newstart have to manage a significant disability.
In some cases, as shown in a recent ABC investigation, the low rate of Newstart forces people into homelessness.
While the government suggests that this low rate of Newstart is necessary to push people into work, this is a lie.
According to both the Australian Bureau of Statistics and theDepartment of Employment, there are currently 1.83 million unemployed and under-employed people competing for only 155,000 job vacancies – resulting in a record high ratio of 12 job seekers per job vacancy.
Exactly how are the unemployed meant to find work in this situation?
As a result of the complete lack of jobs, 7 out of 10 people receiving Newstart have been unemployed for more than a year, up from 6 out of 10 three years ago.
The Australian Unemployment Union demands that the Federal Government:
(1) Increase the Newstart Allowance to the poverty line (50% of median income), shown by the Australian Council of Social Services to be $800 per week.
(2) Cease the current indexation arrangements that put the Newstart Allowance – as well as Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment – in line with the Consumer Price Index.
Beginning with the election of the Fraiser Government in 1975, successive Federal governments have chosen to increase Newstart in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rather than average wage growth. This has led to the rate of Newstart Allowance reducing $259.40 per fortnight.
As a result, the Australian Unemployment Union demand that the indexation of all working age payments are put into line with the Aged Pension and changed to average Male wage growth.
(3) Immediately revoke all proposed attacks on Newstart recipients which would strip a number of important rights from unemployed Australians.