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Greens Senator faces early budget pressure on Newstart

Greens Senator Rachel Siewert is already facing severe hardship during her week living on Newstart Allowance.

Senator Siewert said today that laying out a budget for the week demonstrated the stark reality of living on just $17.15 per day, after rent.

“My first task this weekend was to sit down and map out the week” Senator Siewert said today.

“I set money aside to pay for power, gas and the smallest mobile phone credit recharge amount that would still keep my phone connected, in case an employer wanted to ring and offer me work. I also factored in all the bus tickets I will need to visit to my local Centrelink and Job Service Provider, as well as  trips to apply for jobs and to the shops.

“After taking all of these essential costs into account, I went from having $17.15 a day down to just $10.11 a day for everything else – food, toiletries and cosmetics, emergencies and so on.

“My next job was to plan a week’s worth of meals and go shopping. I ended up spending $52 dollars on food that will need to last me for the week, which leaves me just $17 total, or around $2 per day  for the rest of the week.

“If I had an emergency now – broken glasses, a car breakdown, an unexpected bill- anything like that, I would have to rely on savings, credit card or help from family or friends to get by.

“With 60% of people on Newstart for more than 12 months, things would quickly get on top of them and create immense financial pressure. This would make it incredibly hard to look for work.

“It was a real challenge to have to walk around the shops and look for ways to cut corners and keep costs down. Eating well and getting the proper nutrition would be increasingly difficult the longer you’re on Newstart.

“Increasing the allowance rate by $50 per week - just $7 per day - would be an important start to make things a little easier for the hundreds of thousands of Australians relying on this assistance,” Senator Siewert concluded.

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