PM mealy-mouthed and evasive in the face of a national crisis


Senator Penny Allman-Payne, Greens social services spokesperson, has slammed the Prime Minister for his pathetic response this morning to calls to raise Jobseeker and Youth Allowance payments to 90% of the Age Pension for the millions of Australians living in poverty, including women fleeing violence.

Senator Allman-Payne said:

“The Prime Minister claims he understands the crisis and that financial insecurity is a major barrier for women escaping violence. But when his government is choosing to keep women in poverty, it’s all bluster and no substance.

“The PM can’t keep paying lip service to caring about women and the millions of Australians across the country trying to survive on Jobseeker poverty-payments and not provide adequate funding and policy measures to back it up.

“Despite calls from his own hand-picked Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, leading economists, and clear evidence given to the Poverty Inquiry that the government must raise Jobseeker to a liveable wage, the Prime Minister still couldn’t give a straight answer on what his government would do for the most vulnerable Australians in the upcoming budget.

“He also ducked and weaved questions on the alarming data showing over 50% of applications to the payment for women escaping violence were rejected by his government last year. Having to escape violence and then be rejected for emergency financial relief is re-traumatising for abuse survivors, and the PM merely saying he 'doesn’t like the idea' of that happening is the weakest, most useless response imaginable. It’s not good enough.

“Millions of people in this country are living on starvation payments, with no access to affordable housing, and no way to afford their most basic needs. And the stress of this is magnified a thousand fold for women escaping violence.

“Australia has the lowest unemployment benefits of all OECD countries. People are sick of hearing the same absurd lines from the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and Minister Rishworth time and again - that Labor would love to help struggling Australians, but it’s just too difficult to find room in the budget. It’s not.

“Budgets are about choices. Labor found room for hundreds of billions in Stage 3 tax cuts for the rich, they found room for $50 billion in defence spending, but draw the line at raising income support above the poverty line. It’s a disgrace.”