Newstart increase passes Senate vote

Jackson Lavell-LeeBusselton Dunsborough Times

A campaign led by The Greens WA Senator Rachel Siewert to increase the Newstart allowance has passed the Senate.

Capes residents on Newstart have backed an increase by $75 a week. Single job seekers currently receive $555.70 a fortnight.

Senator Siewert said people receiving the Newstart allowance were trapped in poverty.

“This is a historic moment, the Government is out of step with community expectations and there is no excuse not to increase the rate of Newstart right now,” she said. “Poverty is a barrier to employment so telling people to get a job is nonsensical if people can’t afford a roof over their head, to put food on the table or access the medical help they need.”

Newstart hasn’t increased since 1994 whereas the cost of living has soared.

Research by Deloitte Access Economics shows an increase to Newstart by $75 a week would benefit the economy in Forrest, lifting disposable income $23.6 million and creating 87 jobs.

Busselton resident Nyree Howlett said it was impossible to live independently on Newstart.

“I’m a single mum and have had times where I’ve kept my child off school because I haven’t got enough money for his bus fare,” she said.

Ms Howlett said the low payment, combined with the cost of living, left her unable to pay for her child’s lunch. Much of her allowance was spent on fuel to drive to Bunbury for TAFE.

Forrest MP Nola Marino said she understood the concerns of those “doing it tough” but said most on Newstart found work within 12 months.

“Everyone who receives Newstart allowance is eligible for some form of additional assistance from the welfare system,” she said. “It is our responsibility to ensure our social security is sustainable, so that it can continue to provide support to those most in need.”

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