Millions of the lowest-paid Australians will have their government payments reviewed after a deal that advocates say will “shine a light on the injustice” of income support levels and pave the way for a rise.
ACT Senator David Pocock will back the industrial relations bill, but demanded the government review Centrelink income payments that advocates say have not risen in years and “entrench poverty” for those on them.
Some five million Australians receive welfare payments as part of a disability pension, while looking for work or caring and the Australian Council for Social Services says the review is a “historic” moment.
“No one can survive on $48 a day,” CEO Cassandra Goldie said of the minimum daily JobSeeker rate.
“We know the inadequacy of these payments forces people to go without food and without essential medicines.
“We cannot let this continue now, and we cannot end up here again.”
There’s no obligation to raise the payments under the deal.
But together with other amendments Mr Pocock has ensured a new Economic Inclusion Advisory Panel will require the Treasurer and Social Services Minister to publish a report before the budget.
He has welcomed a “clear path” to raising the payments.
Another independent in the Senate, Tasmanian Jacqui Lambie, who opposes the IR bill, said it would not be so easy.
“We’ve already had, I don’t know, how many inquiries to tell us Jobseeker is way too low,” she said.
The government clinched a deal with ACT Senator David Pocock to support its signature Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill 2022 after long negotiations on Sunday.
Previous governments have paid high prices in the form of payments benefiting a state when brokering deals with independent balance-of-power senators who were key to passing bills through the Senate.
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