The Greens said today that people struggling to survive on Newstart need a permanent increase not just a one off payment of $750.
"This is an insult to all those people condemned to living below the poverty on Newstart and Youth Allowance," Senator Rachel Siewert said.
“Any additional payment to those living in poverty will get spent but this is simply not enough. Newstart and Youth Allowance needs to be increased immediately.
“The Government has not listened to economists who have detailed the very clear economic benefits of an increase to Newstart.
“The continuation of the liquid asset test for casual workers applying for sickness allowance is not fair and should be waived. Why should those applying for sickness allowance have to use up savings to survive on sick leave, it could also further delay people being able to access support.
"Casual workers under 22 appear to be ineligible for the ‘sickness allowance’ the Government says is an alternative to sick leave.
“The Government must consider delaying the rollout of new Jobseeker Payment which will see the sickness allowance phased out and those who are sick put on a jobseeker payment and have to apply for an exemption from activity tests.
“Centrelink’s workload will increase with the COVID-19 response roll out and the stimulus package and I am very worried about people falling through the cracks and not getting timely assistance and support from Centrelink.
“Centrelink is not fit for purpose and continued staff cuts, lack of appropriate investment and management of the robodebt debacle means that Centrelink is under strain with its current caseload, let alone the added load we are going to start seeing.
“As at September 2019, 4,966 people were on Sickness Allowance and almost half of people on Newstart are sick or disabled and struggle to get activity exemptions.
"How can anyone have confidence in Centrelink’s processes to deal with more sick people?"
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180