With fresh food prices tipped to rise as a result of bushfires, a welfare advocate says the Government must do more to ensure struggling households can put food on the table. Source: The New Daily.
By Isabelle Lane, The New Daily
Earlier this week, federal Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie told Australians they would have to pay more for fresh food staples including fruit, vegetables, meat, and milk.
The National Party deputy leader pointed the finger at supermarkets, demanding they “stump up” and “not just talk about being the fresh food people but get on with supporting” farmers “doing it tough”.
Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) chief executive Cassandra Goldie said “any spike in the price of fresh food will obviously compound the financial hardship felt by people doing it tough”.
“We know that people on the lowest incomes like Newstart go without essentials today because these payments are grossly inadequate to cover basic living costs,” Dr Goldie said.
The Government “must increase allowances like Newstart as soon as possible to stop people from spiralling into poverty and help them put food on the table”, she said.
“There is more that the Government must urgently do to support people who have lost so much, as a result of these catastrophic fires.”
Dr Goldie slammed the current disaster payment as “grossly inadequate, particularly for people on lower incomes with few assets and limited family or social support”.
“The Disaster Recovery Allowance is also inadequate to cover basic living costs for people who have lost income as a result of the fires,” she said.
“It is currently paid at the same rate as the paltry Newstart payment, which business, health, regional and community groups all agree needs to be increased.”
ACOSS called on the Government to “immediately allocate” an additional $30 million in funding to food relief.so that community organisations can respond to a “surge in need which is likely to continue for many months” thanks to the unprecedented bushfires crisis.