Greens to introduce suite of amendments to improve Safety Net Bill, including raising Jobseeker to $88 a day


Greens’ Social Services spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, has slammed Peter Dutton’s policy of ripping money from the poorest Australians, and Labor’s paltry increase to income support that will leave millions on poverty-payments. 

Senator Rice will introduce a suite of amendments in the Senate to improve Labor’s Safety Net Bill and help the most vulnerable Australians out of poverty. 

The amendments will include raising the rate of Centrelink payments above the poverty line to $88 a day; implementing the Robodebt Royal Commission’s recommendation to re-instate a six year limit on Social Security Act debt-recovery that was removed by the Abbott Government; lifting the base rate of Centrelink payments to the level recommended by the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee; lifting the eligibility age of the Parenting Payment Single from 14 to 16 (recommended by the Women’s Economic Equality Taskforce); increasing the amount people can earn while on income support; and Australia’s first ever legislated National Poverty Line.

Quotes attributable to Senator Janet Rice, Greens spokesperson for Social Services:

“Labor’s Jobseeker increase is woefully inadequate. It works out to be around $4 a day, which is less than a cup of coffee and won’t help anyone pay their rent. Not that people on Jobseeker can afford to go out with friends for a coffee as it is. 

“This increase doesn’t even cover the record rent hikes or skyrocketing grocery prices, and still leaves people on payments well below the poverty line. Even Labor’s own expert Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee said these payments are nowhere near enough.

“$4 a day is not going to cut it for people who tell me they’re only showering once a week because they can't afford the hot water. It’s not going to cut it for people who are only eating one meal a day. And it's not going to cut it for people who are living in tents or in cars rather than being able to afford a roof over their head.

“We know the cost of living crisis has hit those on Jobseeker hardest. Labor managed to find room in the budget for $9000 a year in Stage 3 tax cuts for every billionaire and politician in the country, but can’t raise Centrelink above the poverty line for struggling Australians. 

“But it is outrageous the Liberals’ wont even support this paltry increase and want to leave many of the most vulnerable recipients, including those with serious health issues who can’t work, living in poverty with no increase at all. An income free area alone is not enough. 

“We want Labor to do far more to help struggling Australians, but we are outraged that the Liberals would rip away even this tiny increase in payments. 

“Peter Dutton is deplorable, and the Greens will fight tooth and nail against any attempts from the Liberals to take money from people who need it most.

“Centrelink payments must be raised above the poverty line to $88 a day. If Labor is serious about helping people, they should back the Greens amendments that will make life easier for millions of Australians.

“We know the community is supportive of these measures that are so important for people who are living in abject poverty on Centrelink payments. It’s vital that we don't have a permanent underclass of people in this country that can’t afford to participate fully in society.”