Almost 50 years to the day (29 August, 1972) after the historic Henderson Commission of Inquiry into poverty, and after years of inaction by successive governments, the Greens have today established a Senate Committee inquiry into the nature and extent of poverty and cost of living pressures in Australia.
Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens spokesperson on Social Services and Chair of the Community Affairs References Committee, said:
“When 5.1 million Australians are barely scraping by on Centrelink payment rates below the poverty line, and millions more are facing cost of living pressures and the crushing stress that goes with it - something is deeply wrong and needs to be fixed.
“I’ve heard directly from countless people about how poverty has an acute impact on nearly every aspect of their lives: not being able to afford nutritious food, an education, housing, the resources to get a job, and on their physical health and mental wellbeing.
“This inquiry will hold wide-ranging hearings across the country, enabling people who have been forced to rely on woefully inadequate payments to have their voices heard, and take that evidence into Parliament.
“With skyrocketing rents, interest rate rises, and months of inflation, it’s urgent that Parliament provide cost-of-living relief to those that need it most, and get out of this decades-long reflex of punishing people on starvation-wages.
“One in six children are living in poverty. No parent should have to wonder how they’re going to feed their kids this week or afford the new school uniform next term.
“When millions of people in this wealthy country are one car-breakdown or dental emergency away from total financial ruin, surely as elected representatives of the people, it is our moral obligation to do something about it.”