Greens MP and Housing spokesperson Jenny Leong MP will today introduce a Private Members Bill to the NSW Parliament, to alleviate financial pressures for people who are forced to live below the poverty line.
“While the NSW Government cannot raise the rate of income support for people living below the poverty line, there are many things they can do to help lift people out of poverty,” Greens MP and Housing spokesperson Jenny Leong MP said today.
“People on income support, pensions and very low incomes pay a significant proportion of their limited amount of money straight back to the government - in the form of drivers license fees, birth certificates, car rego, public transport fares, Working with Children Checks, Responsible Service of Alcohol certificates, or ambulance fees.
“For those living in public housing rent payments are required, even when the property is not maintained - or overrun with rats, roaches or mould. The Bill will introduce a rent waiver while approved maintenance works are uncompleted.
“People living in public housing frequently have no internet access - locking them out from accessing many essential services. For this reason our Bill also ensures that people in public housing are provided with free internet as an essential service.
“Many jobs require a Working with Children Check or an RSA - and having to pay for these makes it near impossible for people to even apply for work. For someone on a high income, these fees and charges might not be a big deal - but for someone trying to get by on income support; these costs can mean that people can’t afford to catch a bus to a job interview, get their ID, apply for a job or keep their car on the road.
“A Working with Children Check costs around $80 - that’s around 28% of the weekly income of someone on JobSeeker. If the Premier had to pay 28% of his income for an administrative check, it would cost him $1,609. For someone on an average income, this would be the equivalent of $268 for a test that is a compulsory part of most job applications.
“Forcing people to live below the poverty line is a political choice that governments make. The NSW Government knows that there is not enough public housing for everyone who needs it, the Australian Government knows that people can’t survive on JobSeeker - they know that there are huge structural barriers preventing people from accessing work and education.
“Structural poverty is a complex matter, and this Bill only goes a small way to addressing it. Obviously we also need to raise the rate, provide more public housing and make all healthcare and education free. But this Bill contains measures that the NSW Government could implement immediately, that would make a big difference to people’s lives.”