Thursday, 16 August 2018
That the Senate:
(b) recognises that the report found that wealth inequality is increasing and, with regards to income inequality, someone in the top 1 per cent of the income scale earns more in a fortnight than someone in the lowest 5 per cent earns in a year;
(c) acknowledges that our social safety net currently fails to protect those seeking work from falling into poverty;
(d) notes that the Australian Council of Social Service calls for an increase of $75 a week to allowance payments for single people from 1 January 2019; and
(e) urges the Federal Government to increase the single rate of Newstart and related allowances by $75 a week.
The rate of Newstart is too low. It is so low it is acting as a barrier to people finding work. That is why Bill Shorten has said that we want to see a root and branch review into the adequacy of Newstart. The fact is that this government actually wants to cut Newstart by scrapping the energy supplement for anyone who has started to receive Newstart since September 2016. Mr Turnbull wants to cut Newstart by $8.80 per fortnight. Labor opposes this, and we will reverse it.
Let's be very clear: this is a stunt by the Greens political party, and we've a seen a few of them today. It won't pass the parliament. The Greens know appropriation bills have to be introduced by a minister in the House. Labor isn't interested in stunts. We want to address this complex issue. We will review the adequacy of Newstart and related supports in government. After all, that is how the biggest increase to the pension in history came about—after a proper review by a Labor government.
If I hear one more time from the government that glib comment that the best form of welfare is a job, I'll throw up. I should put on the record that the Justice Party could support the Greens on this, because I believe that Newstart must be increased, but you cannot set a figure of $75 and try to get them to change their minds. I'm sorry, but I have to vote against it.