Labor’s Safety Net Bill is a parachute with holes


Greens’ Social Services spokesperson, Senator Janet Rice, has slammed Labor’s paltry increase to Centrelink payments that will leave millions of people on poverty-payments.

The Greens introduced a suite of amendments to Labor’s Strengthening the Safety Net Bill -  including implementing recommendations from the Government’s-own Robodebt Royal Commission, the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, and the Womens’ Economic Inclusion Taskforce - to help make life easier for the most vulnerable Australians. 

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

“The Labor Government claims they're leaving no one behind. Labor is leaving everyone on JobSeeker behind with this bill.

“If Labor cared about helping those struggling the most, they would have backed the Greens amendment to raise all Centrelink payments above the poverty line to $88 a day.

“While the Greens will never stop a cent going towards the people who need it most, this bill was pathetically inadequate at addressing the systemic problems plaguing our social security system and still leaves millions of Australians on poverty-payments.

“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.

“When it comes to income support, we don't have a real safety net. As a witness at the bill’s  inquiry said: “I wouldn't call it a safety net, I would call it a parachute with holes. If you are on JobSeeker, you are going to hit the bottom at some point.”

“All this bill does is put a tiny patch on some of those holes. The increase works out to be around $4 a day, which is less than a cup of coffee and won’t help anyone pay their rent.

“The Greens tried in good faith to improve this bill in ways we thought Labor could support, even proposing amendments based on the Government’s-own Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee and the Robodebt Royal Commission that Labor established, and a recommendation from the RC report that the Prime Minister tearfully endorsed.

“Instead of listening to the community, and their own advisory bodies, the Labor Government teamed up with the Liberals to vote all these amendments down, betraying Robodebt victims, single mothers, and everyone on Centrelink payments struggling to keep a roof over their heads.

“Labor ignored an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in lifting Australians out of poverty and building a strong social safety net for everyone who needs it.

“With paltry bills like this from Labor that don't even keep pace with record rent hikes and skyrocketing grocery prices, we are in real danger of creating a permanent underclass of people in this country that can’t afford to participate fully in society.