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COVID-19 (coronavirus)

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Government must urgently act on Change the Record Report and start by including a First Nations representative on the COVID Coordination Commission

The Change the Record Critical Condition Report released today has shown how existing inequalities and injustices faced by First Nations peoples have been exacerbated and further entrenched by the COVID crisis and highlights the urgent need for a recovery that includes First Nations peoples. 
“This report highlights exactly why we need more transparency around the National #COVIDー19 Coordination Commission," Senator Rachel Siewert said. 

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$60 billion should be spent on keeping  people above the poverty line

The revised Jobkeeper figures released today mean that the Government has no excuse to return the Jobseeker payment to $40 a day at the end of September. 

Further, the Government can top up the DSP and Carer Payments so that disabled people and carers can meet the additional costs they are facing because of the pandemic.

No one in a country as wealthy as Australia should be living in poverty and cutting income support payments to those who need it most is a choice, not an inevitability.

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Disappointment that Senate didn’t show solidarity with disabled people and carers who are struggling with costs due to COVID-19 

“It’s deeply disappointing that the Senate didn’t demonstrate solidarity with disabled people and carers by supporting the Greens motion calling on the Government to provide the full $550 coronavirus supplement to Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment recipients,” Senator Rachel Siewert said.
“Disabled people and carers feel abandoned by this Government and today we had the opportunity to show them they have not been abandoned by the Senate. 
“The Government cannot deny that there are increased costs that come with living through a pandemic. 

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Reducing Jobseeker would be irresponsible

The Greens say the Government's plans to reduce the Jobseeker payment in September is reckless, unfair and fiscally irresponsible.

“To meet the OECD relative measure of poverty a fortnightly income of at least $1012 is needed, keeping Jobseeker at its current rate would ensure people were not living in poverty.

“How will people survive if they cannot even afford the basics like rent or groceries and how will our economy repair if people can’t spend?

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A decent and fair safety net means all payments above the poverty line 

The Australian Greens say that Treasurer Frydenberg’s statement that we must ensure “a safety net which is underpinned by a sense of decency and fairness” means that the Government must commit to maintaining the current rate of the Jobseeker payment and ensuring that no income support payment is below the poverty line. 
"It would not be decent or fair to take the Jobseeker payment back below the poverty line. 

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Greens say strong action needed against institutions who fail to sign up to Redress Scheme by June 30 deadline 

The Australian Greens said today that the recommendations of the Interim Report of the Joint Select Committee on the Implementation of the National Redress Scheme highlights the need for reforms of the Redress scheme.
“There is an urgent need for action in a number of key areas particularly in view of the looming deadline for institutions to join the scheme. It is unacceptable that some institutions are not joining the scheme", Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert said. 

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Minister must urgently act to ensure food security in remote communities

Existing issues of price gouging and difficulty in accessing supplies in remote communities is an ongoing issue that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis with reports that First Nations families in remote communities are spending up to 93 percent of their weekly income on food.

"I’m hearing accounts of scarcity, difficulty and inability to access even basic supplies and high prices from many remote communities", Greens spokesperson on First Nations issues senator Rachel Siewert said.

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Senate committee recommends an increase to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment 

The Senate Community Affairs References committee has recommended an increase to the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment  rates to ensure people do not live in poverty.

"This report clearly indicates that the pre-covid payment rates for Jobseekers, Youth Allowance and Parenting Payment do not support an acceptable minimum standard of living", Senator Rachel Siewert said. 

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It is untenable to drop Jobseeker payment back to $40 a day

"I am gobsmacked that the Prime Minister is thinking it is ok to return  the Jobseeker payment to $40 a day in six months, condemning what is likely to be over a million people to living in poverty on Jobseeker. This is untenable. 

"The cruelty of low income support rates has been laid bare by this pandemic. 

"How can it be Government policy for people to live below the poverty line? 

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One month extension to Mutual Obligations suspension is a temporary solution 

"I am pleased that Minister Cash has agreed to extend the suspension of Mutual Obligations by another month, however it’s only a temporary solution. 

"Mutual Obligations need to be suspended for six months, other programs like Jobkeeper and the Jobseeker supplement run for six months because the Government knows this is an on-going evolving situation that people need to be supported through. 

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