Australian Greens spokesperson for social services, Senator Janet Rice, is again urging Minister Jim Chalmers to heed calls from the Greens, academics, peak bodies and the millions of Australians currently living below the poverty line, to raise the rate of income support in May’s budget.
Senator Rice said:
“After calls from ACOSS and other members of the government’s own economic inclusion advisory committee to raise the rate of Jobseeker, we’re hearing the same absurd lines from Jim Chalmers today as we heard ahead of last year’s October budget - that Labor would love to help struggling Australians, but it’s just so difficult to find room in the budget.
“New research from Oxfam shows Australian billionaires’ wealth is 61% higher than it was before the pandemic, and the richest 1% of Australians now have a combined wealth of nearly $236 billion. It’s infuriating that Labor found plenty of room in the budget to give them another $9000 a year in tax cuts, but baulk at the idea of raising Jobseeker above the poverty line.
“The cost of living crisis has only worsened in recent months. People on income support can’t cover their most basic needs and a third of Australian households are struggling to put food on the table.
“A government has a moral responsibility to ensure its citizens aren’t left starving. Poverty is a political choice.
“Labor should scrap the stage 3 tax cuts and invest that money into raising all income support payments above the poverty line and building a proper social safety net for all Australians.
“Parliament must respond to the cost of living impacts for people on starvation wages and income support. The Greens are fighting for a livable income guarantee that would raise payments to $88 a day, above the poverty line.