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Rudd can’t split the Newstart debate to score points - Greens

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd shouldn't seek to split the Newstart debate in order to secure a pre-election poll boost and wedge the community into supporting a weakened, compromised policy shift.

"Everyone on Newstart is struggling. If Mr Rudd turns this into an ‘either/or' debate, in which some people are given assistance and others miss out, it would cause great concern across the community," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on families and community services said today.

"The Government of a wealthy, modern country such as ours should not play games of have and have-not with vulnerable people living significantly below the poverty line. We need to help everyone on Newstart.

"The Greens are leading the political debate on support for single parents, we opposed the Howard Government's Welfare to Work policy and we opposed Labor's January cuts. We know how important it is to help single parents and all those on Newstart.

"This is why the Greens have had legislation in Parliament since the beginning of the year to increase Newstart by $50 per week and provide additional support of $40 per week to single parents.

"I'm glad Mr Rudd now understands the impacts of dumping single parents on Newstart, given he made no moves to help single parents and reverse John Howard's Welfare to Work reforms when he came into office in 2007, despite the fact Labor vehemently opposed them in opposition.

"Living so far below the poverty line has a devastating impact. Everyone on Newstart needs a $50 per week increase, be they single parents, older jobseekers, people with disability or those with limited literacy or numeracy skills. Single parents need additional help.

"Mr Rudd cannot make this a choice of helping some people but ignoring others when the evidence about Newstart's inadequacy is irrefutable," Senator Siewert concluded.


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