Senate debates

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Statements by Senators

Pensions and Benefits

1:34 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

No-one deserves to live in poverty, but you wouldn't know that from Labor's deliberate measures to keep people living well below the poverty line. If the reports this week are true, Labor is planning to increase JobSeeker by $2.85 a day, which is even less than the increase to JobSeeker that former Prime Minister Morrison made last year. It is $500 below the Henderson poverty line. People who are on starvation payments are hurting. They are having to make impossible choices between paying for food, paying the rent and paying for vital medication. But, rather than receiving a substantial increase to their payments—the substantial increase that the government's own hand-picked Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee recommended—they are going to receive a slap in the face.

Budgets are about choices, and Labor could choose differently, instead of doubling down, leaving people without the heating, the food or the medicines that they need in order to survive. Labor must increase poverty payments, must increase income support to above the poverty line, to above $88 a day, and must end punitive mutual obligations. And if you need to know how to pay for it, we Greens have some very significant proposals that can help you out. Axe the stage 3 tax cuts. That would free up $254 billion over the next decade. Dump the AUKUS submarines. That would be $364 billion. Increase taxes on the coal, the gas and the oil companies, instead of the pathetic increase to the petroleum resource rent tax that the gas cartel have approved. And stop subsidies to fossil fuels—over $10 billion a year.

Budgets are about choices. This government is making the wrong choice, and we call on them to do differently.