Monday, 12 November 2018
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 1163 standing in my name for today relating to Anti-Poverty Week.
I move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Anti-Poverty Week was from 14 October to 20 October 2018,
(ii) in Australia, which is ranked as the second wealthiest county in the world, there are currently 3 million people in Australia living in poverty, including 739 000 children,
(iii) Australia has no poverty reduction plan, and despite economic growth, poverty levels have remained entrenched at a high level,
(iv) Newstart and Youth Allowance have not had an increase in real terms since 1994, and
(v) the poverty rate for sole parents rose from 35% in 2013 to 59% in 2015, and rates of poverty for sole parents remain high; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to abandon their punitive approach to social policy and the demonisation of those accessing the social safety net, and acknowledge that the current rate of Newstart is too low and is a barrier to people participating in the workforce.
(c) calls on the Federal Government to increase Newstart and Youth Allowance by $75 a week.
The best form of welfare is a job. Our government will continue to promote policies which improve employment opportunities for those on Newstart and youth allowance, as well as continuing to index those payments twice a year.
Labor recognises the importance of Anti-Poverty Week and the unacceptable rates of poverty and inequality in Australia. We also know the rate of Newstart is too low. It's so low it's acting as a barrier to people finding work. Too many people living on Newstart are facing very real hardship, and the work being done by community leaders on this issue is incredibly important. That's why Bill Shorten has said that we want to see a root-and-branch review into the adequacy of Newstart. The fact is the government have tried to cut Newstart. For years, they have wanted to scrap the energy supplement for Newstart recipients. Labor opposed these cuts, and thankfully the government have backed down, but we know their cuts to Newstart and the pension will be back; there is no doubt about it. In government we will review the adequacy of Newstart and related supports—a thorough review that will look at what needs to change and how to pay for it. After all, that's how Labor delivered the biggest increase to the pension in history: after a proper review.