Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Matters of Public Importance


6:25 pm

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to make a contribution to this MPI:

The Morrison government's budget for millionaires is a disaster for our climate and for economic equality, driving the expansion of dirty gas and giving billions in corporate handouts.

Last night's budget, touted by the Treasurer as a budget all about jobs, does nothing for those who will remain unemployed. That's because even the government says and knows that there will still be around six per cent unemployment, even if their wildest dreams come true. Those people deserve support from our social security system, so that they are not living in poverty and so that their wellbeing is ensured. The Treasurer mentioned JobSeeker three times in his speech last night, that I counted, but did not mention and did not commit to any permanent increase to JobSeeker nor give security to those who do not know whether, at the end of December, they will be condemned to $40 a day. In fact, at the moment that's what is going to happen. People on the JobSeeker payment or on youth allowance basically at the moment know that they will end up in deep poverty. With the cut of $300 a fortnight, we know that they've been put below the poverty line, but by the end of December they will be in the deep poverty of $40 a day. We saw nothing for people on JobSeeker and youth allowance, who are becoming increasingly anxious about the future and whether they will be able to pay their bills or not.

This trickle-down budget is rooted in choices that will prolong our recession and fuel the climate crisis. The tragedy here is that we could move to a much more equal community and society and address the climate crisis, but the government has prioritised $99 billion a year in handouts to big corporations while unemployed Australians get nothing. Millions of Australians on high incomes will get tax cuts, but there's no guarantee that they'll spend the money. Whereas, if you commit to certainty for people on low incomes, and in particular those on the JobSeeker payment, if you guarantee certainty and make sure that they are given an income and supported above the poverty line, they will actually spend the money. They know that they have to put food on the table, pay their rent, pay their mortgages, go to the dentist, buy medications. They contribute to the community. In fact, by not making sure that people will continue to get paid the original coronavirus supplement, the government has taken out $31.3 billion from our economy. It means that 145,000 jobs are not available that would be available if the government were paying the coronavirus supplement at the original level of $1,100 a fortnight. That money would not only benefit the economy but, much more importantly, would make sure that people weren't living in poverty and that people's wellbeing was looked after. This budget condemns people to poverty. It also expands inequality and will help drive our climate crisis.


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