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COVID-19 (coronavirus)

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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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COVID Committee reveals Treasury were not asked to do any modelling on providing the COVID supplement for people on DSP or carer payment

Questions to the Treasury during the Select Committee on COVID-19 hearing today revealed that they were not asked to and nor did they do any modelling on providing the COVID supplement to people on DSP and carer payments. 

"At the moment, people on DSP and carer payments are feeling left behind by this Government and this is not good enough.

"Disabled people and their carers should not be living below the poverty line which is what is happening with the increase in their essential living costs. 

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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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Greens write to Minister Ruston asking her to use legislative instrument to increase support for people on DSP and Carers payment

"I have written to Minister Ruston asking her to immediately increase the Disability Support Pension and Carers payment using the power under amendments in the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus Act 2020 to change social security settings via legislative instruments to provide additional support when needed. 

"It is crystal clear if you speak to anyone on these payments that additional support is urgently needed for Disability Support Pensioners through this crisis. 

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Greens will seek to amend Jobkeeper package to ensure that not-for-profits will survive this crisis 

While many people will benefit from the Government’s stimulus packages, the Government’s response to COVID-19 continues to see large sections of our population left behind who are disproportionately affected by this health and economic crisis. 

I will be seeking the support of the Senate to: 
•    Extend the $550 supplement to the Disability Support Pension (DSP) and Carer Payments
•    Amend the revenue test for charities and not-for-profits 
•    Extend the Jobseeker Payment to people on temporary visas 
•    Ensure that part-time workers can’t be exploited

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Greens welcome pause on debt raising and recovery  

“I am pleased that the Government is finally implementing a pause on debt raising and recovery activity.
“Now is the time to be looking out for people, ensuring they have enough to live on, not chasing them for debts.
“I was told two weeks ago in the Senate by the Minister for Social Services that debt recovery had been suspended, now two weeks later we have confirmation from Minister Robert. 
“Constituents have been contacting us with debts that were raised against them this week!

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