Labor calls for immediate Newstart boost

Josh Frydenberg (left) and Jim Chalmers (Wikimedia/Julian Meehan and ABC News)

Labor is urging the Coalition to boost the Newstart payment after the Government bowed to public pressure to lift the income of almost 700,000 aged pensioners by changing the deeming rate. Source: The Guardian.

Following the announcement on Sunday to lower the deeming rates used to calculate pension income, the shadow treasurer, Jim Chalmers, said the Coalition needed to shift its focus to the “inadequate” Newstart benefit.

The call comes as the Australian Council of Social Service launched a “raise the rate” campaign to lobby MPs to immediately lift the single rate of Newstart, youth allowance and other related payments by at least $75 per week.

“The ball is in the Government’s court, and we call on the Government to take into account the well-founded and well-motivated concerns which have been raised by a number of groups now about Newstart and its inadequacy,” Mr Chalmers said.

“We call on them to respond in good faith and in good time to these concerns, which have been rightly and understandably raised for some time now, including by the Labor party.”

While declining to nominate a dollar figure for the proposed increase, Mr Chalmers said the Government needed to take up Labor’s pre-election pledge for a review into the Newstart payment, given action was needed “right now”.

The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said the Government was focused on helping people into jobs but acknowledged people were “doing it tough”.

“I am very conscious of the struggle that many people have when they are living off welfare,” Mr Frydenberg said. “Our focus for the people on Newstart is helping to create the environment where they get a job, because that is the best thing you can do for someone who is on Newstart, helping them into the workforce.”

He said that more than 90 per cent of people on Newstart received support from another benefit, such as a parenting payment or rent assistance, and two-thirds of people on the payment found a job within 12 months.

FULL STORY

Labor says Coalition must take action on Newstart 'right now' after pensioner boost (The Guardian

RELATED COVERAGE

Seniors join call for rise in Newstart (The Australian

'Stressful, heartbreaking' Newstart payment needs raise, welfare advocates plead (10 Daily)

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