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Government should consider delaying rollout of new Jobseeker Payment as Centrelink workload will increase with COVID-19 response roll out

From March 20, 2020 Newstart Allowance, Sickness Allowance, Wife Pension, Bereavement Allowance and Widow B Pension will cease and most recipients of these payments will transition to Jobseeker Payment, Age Pension or Carer Payment.
 
“I am very concerned that the Centrelink system will be under additional strain as casual workers are forced to self-isolate and will be applying for either an emergency payment, Newstart or the former sickness payment," Senator Rachel Siewert said. 
 

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Estimates reveals only 28 people have been successfully exempted from Cashless Debit card out of 859 applications

Only 28 people have had their applications to be exempted from the cashless debit card approved out of a total of 859 applications.
 
“These applications were only processed in the two weeks before Estimates, despite the exemption process officially being in place since July 2019 although not operational until sometime after that.
 
“Why has it take the Department so long to start processing these applications and can the remaining hundreds of people expect to hear soon about their application?
 

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Services Australia refuses to tell Estimates how many robodebts are impacted by income averaging

“Questions to Services Australia in Estimates this evening have made it clear that there is no justice in sight for victims of the Government’s illegal robodebt program,” Senator Rachel Siewert said.
 
“The Government using the on-going legal case over illegal Robodebts to refuse to release details of the process for reassessment of income averaging is outrageous.

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Lack of sick leave a coronavirus ‘ticking time bomb’, stimulus payments needed: Greens

Greens Leader Adam Bandt MP and Greens Community Services spokesperson Rachel Siewert have called on the government to extend the Disaster Recovery Allowance to those affected by the coronavirus, especially those without sick leave.

The Greens have also called for any government stimulus to be targeted to support low-income Australians, support coronavirus resilience and be a more effective response to the threat of recession.

Lines from Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt MP:

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Government should use projected $2.1 billion in savings from Bill passed today towards compensating victims of illegal robodebts

The Australian Greens are concerned that there will be a rushed start of the Simplified Income Reporting measure coming in on 1 July this year as a result of the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Simplifying Income Reporting and Other Measures) Bill 2020 passing through the Senate today.

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Further evidence that cashless debit card does not work and Newstart must be increased

An independent study from the University of Queensland showing that people on income management have an ‘overwhelming number’ of negative experiences’ is further evidence that the cashless debit card should be abandoned and current moves to extend it voted down.
 
"It is untenable for the Government to continue the so-called cashless debit card trial sites in Ceduna, the East Kimberley, Goldfields and Hinkler region and to extend it to the NT," Senator Rachel Siewert said.

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Government is failing all Australians by not addressing poverty 

The UNSW Poverty in Australia report released today shows that the freezing of the rate of Newstart and the transferring of sole parents onto Newstart from 2007 are some of the key drivers of poverty. 

“We have very clear indicators of the causes and impact of poverty on our community but the Government refuses to do anything about it,” Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said.

“The rate of child poverty in a country as wealthy as Australia is so shameful.

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Greens gobsmacked as Government claims it has no duty of care to Australian citizens 

The Greens have rejected the Government's claim they have "no duty of care" to Australians accessing pensions and income support through our social security system, saying there has always been a social contract with the Australian people.

"We work, pay our taxes to support our Government so that when we and our fellow citizens fall on hard times we know that we will be assisted to get by — that is what our social safety net has always been,"  Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said.

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