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Greens and ALP send Newstart and related payments to senate inquiry

Senator Rachel Siewert and Senator Patrick Dodson’s reference to senate inquiry on the adequacy of Newstart and related payments has today been supported by the Senate.
“I’m very pleased that the Senate has supported our reference to the Community Affairs References Committee”, Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert said today.
“This week we’ve had people from all sides of politics come out in support of an increase to Newstart which has not had a real term increase since 1994.
“This inquiry will also look into a wide range of issues that interact with Newstart and other income support payments including impacts of the current approach, the changing nature of work, mechanisms that set payments, as well as the role of independent and expert decision-making in setting payments.
“It is vital that the Government pay close attention to this inquiry where we will hear from the community on what it is like to survive on Newstart. Their refusal to raise the rate is out of step with community expectations.
“I urge members of the community to make submissions to the inquiry”.
The terms of reference read:

To move—That the following matter be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 27 March 2020:

The adequacy of  Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia, with specific reference to:
 (a)    consideration of what constitutes an acceptable standard of living in Australia, including the cost of safe and secure housing;
 (b)    the labour market, unemployment and under-employment in Australia, including the structural causes of long term unemployment and long term reliance on Newstart;
 (c)    the changing nature of work and insecure work in Australia;
 (d)    the appropriateness of current arrangements for supporting those experiencing insecure employment, inconsistent employment and precarious hours in the workforce;
 (e)    the current approach to setting income support payments in Australia;
 (f)    the impact of the current approach to setting income support payments on older unemployed workers, families, single parents, people with disability, jobseekers, students, First Nations peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living in regional and remote areas, and any others affected by the process;
 (g)    the impact of geography, age and other characteristics on the number of people receiving payments, long term unemployment and poverty;
(h)    the adequacy of income support payments in Australia and whether they allow people to maintain an acceptable standard of living in line with community expectations and fulfil job search activities (where relevant) and secure employment and training;
(i)    the economic cost of long-term unemployment, underemployment, poverty, inequality and inadequate income support payments;
(j)    the economic benefits – including job creation, locally and nationally – of increasing and improving income support payments and supports, and decreasing poverty and inequality;
(k)    the relationship between income support payment levels, minimum wages and wage stagnation in Australia and other comparable economies;
 (l)    the interactions with other payments and services, including the loss of any increased payments through higher rents and costs;
 (m)    the cost and fiscal sustainability of any changes;
(n)    the relative merits of alternative investments in health, education, housing and other programs to improve outcomes;
(o)    other countries’ approaches to setting income support payments, minimum wages and awards;
(p)    other bodies that set payments, minimum wages and awards in Australia;
(q)    the role of independent and expert decision–making in setting payments; and
(r)    any other related matters.

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Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie; 0418 401 180

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