The Australian Greens said today that they remain the only party with effective policies on the table to reduce the incidence of poverty in Western Australia.
The new WA Council of Social Service Cost Of Living Report released today shows that a lack of affordable housing, increased living costs and inadequate levels of income support are driving Western Australians below the poverty line, with job seekers, single parents and families on low or fixed incomes most at risk.
Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam said the findings by WACOSS showed that providing more affordable housing was essential to ending poverty in Western Australia.
"The figures released today show Australia is experiencing rising rates of child poverty, with one in six children living in poverty - an increase of 15% since 2001, and that the cost of housing is the biggest single driver of financial hardship.
"In 2012-13, the biggest factor in the rising financial pressure on low income households was increasing rent - accounting for up to three quarters of the total rise in living costs.
"Workers on the minimum wage, part time workers and people on income support are struggling - the cost of living is rising faster than their incomes and unaffordable housing is the key driver. People are spending half of their income on keeping a roof over their heads - this can't go on.
"The Greens have a series of initiatives to deliver more affordable housing: a plan for 85,000 new rental properties through the National Rental Affordability Scheme and a Convert To Rent program; a plan to double support services and build 7000 new homes for the homeless; and a plan to build 122,000 new social housing homes to get 225,000 families, couples and singles off the national waiting list - and to fund them with private investment through housing supply bonds.
"Only the Greens are standing up for Australians struggling to afford a place to live. Only the Greens have delivered serious, fully-costed initiatives that would take the pressure out of the housing market and help people make ends meet," said Senator Ludlam.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert spokesperson on families and community services said the WACOSS report highlighted the growing gap between low income households income and the cost of basic necessities.
"People on income support including single parent families are falling further behind every week as their income cannot meet the cost of living. People are being condemned to live in poverty," said Senator Siewert.
"This reality shows the inherent cruelty in Labor's decision to move single parents onto Newstart in January, with the full support of Tony Abbott. Running a negative household budget means people go without the essentials, miss bills and are forced to rely on credit, support from family or friends or turn to our community sector for assistance.
"In a wealthy country like Australia, it is not acceptable for more than 2.3 million people, nearly 600,000 of whom are children, to live below the poverty line.
"Income support needs to be increased. The Greens have clearly demonstrated that by fixing the mining tax we can provide a $50 per week increase for people on Newstart and Youth Allowance, as well as providing an additional supplement of $40 per week for all single parents on Newstart.
"This should be part of a National Anti-Poverty Strategy, founded on the principle that tackling poverty means addressing the range of underlying factors that contribute to it.
"The Greens are the only party talking about poverty and offering strong, costed policies to address it. We can be trusted to stand up to the old parties and help Australia's most vulnerable people," Senator Siewert concluded.
The Greens affordable housing plans in detail - http://greens.org.au/housing