In the lead-up to a Liberal Budget set to increase inequality and with Labor opting to be a small target by waving regressive economic measures through Parliament, the Greens are positioning themselves as the only social democratic alternative this election, with Leader Adam Bandt MP and Community Services spokesperson Senator Janet Rice today launching the Greens’ fully-costed plan to introduce
a Liveable Income Guarantee.
The Liveable Income Guarantee would see all government income support payments raised above the poverty line, mutual obligations abolished, and unfair restrictions on who can access the payment removed, to ensure that everyone has the means to cover their basic essential needs. With cost of living a pressing issue and wages growth stagnant, the Greens also argue the policy for a universally available payment will help lift wages from the bottom up, while also boosting the economy by ensuring more money is spent on essentials in local businesses.
Today, the Greens will outline their bold plan to increase income support payments to $88 per day from July 2023, the current poverty line, and benchmark them against the Henderson Poverty Line biannually from then on.
The payments impacted are:
- JobSeeker Payment
- Parenting Payment
- Age Pension
- Carer’s Payment
- Disability Support Pension
- Farmhouse Allowance
- Youth Allowance
- Crisis Payments
This is also the first Greens election policy aiming to increase the Age Pension, and the Greens are vowing to press the issue in balance of power in the next Parliament, saying the Liberals had abandoned fairness and that Labor was in danger of doing the same. The Greens are campaigning hard in seats like Richmond, which has a high proportion of Age Pension recipients. Labor has previously opposed setting JobSeeker above the poverty line on the basis that it would then be above the Age Pension, but this Greens policy addresses that objection by lifting both.
The total cost of the policy is $88.7b over the forward estimates period and would be met through measures such as the billionaires tax and corporate super-profits tax, as well as reversing unfair Stage 3 tax cuts. Further details of the plan can be found at the end of this document.
Quotes attributable to Greens leader Adam Bandt MP:
“In a wealthy country like ours, no-one should live in poverty.
“Job seekers were lifted out of poverty during the pandemic, but since then they’ve been forgotten.
“By making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax, we can lift people out of poverty while also lifting wages and boosting our economy.
“When you don’t wave through tax cuts for the wealthy and instead make billionaire corporations pay their fair share of tax, you can offer a real alternative.
“With the cost of living soaring and inflation a looming problem, raising the rate of income support is the urgent economic stimulus that will help lift wages from the bottom up.
“Casual work and job insecurity mean even many workers are living below the poverty line. People are being forced to choose between medical appointments, groceries and rent. We need a universally available safety net where no-one falls through the cracks.
“To cut costs, the Liberals have made many of these payments hard to get while blaming people for failing to find jobs that just aren’t there. Anyone who has been on Centrelink can tell you the system is broken: it’s underfunded, it’s built on systems of humiliation and cruelty, and it traps people in cycles of poverty as bills pile up and urgent needs go unmet.
“If Liberal and Labor want to argue pensioners and job seekers should be living in poverty, bring it on.”
Quotes attributable to Greens spokesperson for family, ageing and community services Senator Janet Rice:
“Anyone who has ever struggled to put food on their table, or had to make a choice between paying the rent on time or getting the medication they need, knows the constant and crushing stress of living in poverty.
“In this wealthy country, something is deeply broken when around 20% of our population are receiving payments that aren’t enough to survive on, and 1 in 6 kids are living in poverty. No parent should have to wonder how they’re going to feed their kids this week or buy the new school uniform next term.
“Petrol prices are going up and food prices are set to rise too. When you’re already barely scraping by every week, it doesn’t take much to push you into dire circumstances. Between the bushfires, the pandemic, the floods, rising inflation and price hikes, it’s never been more important to ensure we have a strong social safety net in place for when people need it.
“Why aren’t either of the major parties talking about their plan to end poverty when huge swathes of people are struggling every day to take care of their families and get their most basic needs met? “Governments are meant to serve people. Millions of Australians are hurting and their government is ignoring them. People just want to be able to live their lives with dignity and without constant fear of
how they’re going to keep their head above water. It's not too much to ask.
“If Australia has enough in the budget for $62 billion a year in handouts to billionaires and big corporations, it has enough to ensure its citizens aren’t starving. Poverty is a policy choice.
“By guaranteeing a liveable income for all who need it, and abolishing the broken and punitive mutual obligation requirements, the Greens plan will give every Australian a fair go and stimulate the economy.”
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