The Australian Greens have reacted angrily to the Government's suggestion that people are retiring on Newstart, saying the claim is misguided and malicious.
"The Government clearly misunderstand both the job market and just how hard it is to survive on Newstart. Older Australians do not want to live in poverty, which is living on Newstart," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.
"We reject any so-called crackdown on older jobseekers on Newstart, the Government should be focused on helping people into work and addressing serious issues like age discrimination.
"The growing number of older jobseekers on Newstart is a sign of changing job markets, industries changing their workforces and the challenges that come with finding a job when you're in your 50s or 60s.
"Living below the poverty line on Newstart puts older Australians on the back foot in the years before their retirement. It is simply ridiculous to think people would 'choose' to live in this situation.
"If you're stuck on Newstart you've used up most of your savings before you can even get the payment, and essential costs like food, medical and utilities are harder to afford. The impacts on health, mental health and quality of life from living in poverty can be significant.
"Exposing older jobseekers to tougher compliance measures does not address the barriers they are facing.
"The Government must focus on helping older jobseekers re-train and build new skills that help them in the job market. New pathways to employment need to be created and a real focus needs to be placed on reducing age discrimination.
"These are issues that will need an increased focus as our population ages, and is a key reason why it is irresponsible for the Government to try to increase the retirement age to 70 at this time.
"More older Australians will be looking for work in the years ahead, and we need to give them adequate income support and assistance back into employment, not expose them to poverty," Senator Siewert concluded.