The first hearing of the inquiry into the extent and nature of poverty in Australia has heard from community organisations, advocacy groups and those with lived experience of poverty in Australia.
Senator Rice said:
“Today, the Senate committee has heard story after story of Australians who can’t afford 3 meals a day or are forced to live in their cars because they can’t afford housing.
“On the same day, the Federal Government announced that their Stage 3 Tax Cuts for the wealthy are going to cost 10 billion dollars more than anticipated.
“Labor should be ashamed that they’re providing more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy, while people are living in their cars.
“The committee heard the stories from those with lived experience, including Abigail who said, ‘when people tell me that centrelink is broken, I say centrelink is working exactly as designed, it is designed to be cruel, it is designed to punish people, the Government did this, and you can change this.’
“Poverty is a political choice and Labor has a choice next week as they announce their first budget.
“They can choose to raise the rate of income support so no one is forced to live below the poverty line, or they can plough through with tax cuts for the wealthy.
“Many of the witnesses noted that we need to raise the rate of income support. VCOSS, Financial Counselling Victoria, Financial Counselling Australia, Council of Single Mothers and their Children, Carringbush Adult Education, Young Assets Foundation, UnitingCare Vic/Tas and Cohealth all noted that the current rate of income support simply is not enough.
“Everyone deserves the right to live in safety with a roof over their head, food in their cupboard, medical care and hot showers. Families are having to decide which of these they will have to sacrifice. The Labor Government can change this through a guaranteed liveable income.
“The Greens are calling on Labor to raise the rate of all income support payments above the poverty line and provide people with a guaranteed liveable income.”