Adapting to a challenging year, and continuing the struggle against the threat of widening inequality
By Senator Rachel Siewert
This time last year none of us would have predicted what 2020 had in store and it is hard to believe it is the end of the year already.
For me it’s been an absolutely hectic year of managing Parliament sitting weeks with a smaller team and then having half of the Party Room in Parliament and the rest online as well as doing a lot of my committee work online too!
In addition given the type of year we have had we have had a large number of people needing help with Centrelink and I’d like to give a huge shout out to my amazing team who have gone above and beyond to help people.
It’s been a year of seeing Jobseeker being increased to a rate above the poverty line and seeing the huge benefits it had to the community and then the Government cruelly cutting it back to below the poverty line at Christmas time.
At the start of the crisis, the government stepped in to temporarily paper over some of the fundamental flaws in our social security system and, in doing so, has unwittingly demonstrated that we can have a better system ‒ one that's adequate, accessible, supportive and responsive.
It’s been a year that has really highlighted the impacts of a punitive income support system and what happens when successive Governments target the social safety net for savings.
It has really shown how important Government investment in people is and that long term investment in people and communities are what we are going to rely on into the future if we are going to beat rising income inequality. The fact is, after years of community campaigning we all know that Jobskeeker cannot go back to $40 a day.
I am worried that while the Government keeps talking about the ‘recovery’ this is not a recovery that includes everyone. In fact, income inequality is expected to widen. The Greens won’t let unemployed Australians and those on low incomes bear the burden of this crisis.
It’s been an incredibly challenging year and I want to thank you all for your hard work and of course the amazing work that has been done to get us ready for the state election campaign.
Take care and I hope that you have a restful break. We will be back in the new year to hold this Government accountable and ensure that we are building a post covid community for everyone not just the wealthy.
P.S. If you would like to read more I have written a chapter in After Covid-19 Volume 3 Voices from federal parliament, A pathway to building a fairer social security system after Covid-19