The Australian Greens have reintroduced critical legislation in the Senate to deliver a $50 per week increase to the single rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance.
"Single people living on Newstart and Youth Allowance are significantly disadvantaged by Australia's current income support system," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on families and community services said today.
"These are two of our lowest and most inadequate income support payments. They force people to live below the poverty line and do not adequately support them as they study, look for work and raise a family.
"It is nothing more than punishment to offer people just $250.50 per week on Newstart and expect them to be able to pay bills and put food on the table.
"Raising the single rate of Newstart and the away-from-home rate of Youth Allowance by $50 per week will bring relief to almost a million households, including single parent families.
"This bill also corrects the imbalance in payment indexation which continues to widen the gap between pensions and allowance payments. Newstart is $156.20 per week less than the age pension.
"The call for a $50 increase has received widespread support from not only welfare and social service groups but also from business groups, unions, various economists and members of parliament.
"The Business Council of Australia argued in its submission to the Senate Inquiry into the adequacy of allowances payments that there is a need for an increase in the Newstart Allowance on an ‘adequacy and fairness basis' and that ‘there is concern that the low rate of Newstart itself now presents a barrier to employment and risks entrenching poverty'.
"A $50 increase to the base rate of eligible payments will ensure a fairer, and more straightforward social security system and immediately reduce the extent to which Australian people are living in poverty. Better indexation will help maintain the value of an increase into the future.
"Punishing people by condemning them to poverty is not contributing to the caring society that the majority of Australians want for themselves or for their children," Senator Siewert concluded.