Contributed From Victoria
Despite the release of Labor’s own report calling on a substantial lift to Jobseeker and Youth allowance payments, the Albanese government seems to be in no mood to listen. The report calls for a boost in rental assistance, and it argues that there must be a change in thinking of the definition of full employment. It currently refers to anyone who has worker an hour in the week of the used unemployment survey.
The reason given for the assessment by the Economic Advisory Committee, which had been briefed to find ways of lifting economic participation, is that Jobseeker and youth allowance payments have fallen so far below a liveable income that they constitute a barrier to finding work and inclusion. Raising these payments to overcome these barriers requires a 40 percent increase. This would mean living on $80 a day instead of $40.
A similar argument applies to the single parent allowance and the age pension.
According to government estimates, the called for changes would cost $34 billion. Treasurer Jim Chalmers has ruled out making any commitments and goes on to say, that the priority for the government is paying the $1 trillion debt it inherited.
When the cost of the benefit increase is compared to the intended $250 billion stage three tax cuts to the highest income earners, it is put into the proper perspective. It is not so much. Add to this the whopping $368 billion price tag for the nuclear submarine the government is buying.
This difference in the treatment of the wealthiest and the poorest is in line with that of the previous Scott Morrison government. The wealthiest are looked after, even if it’s at the expense of the poorest. The tax cut will deliver those paid over $180,000 a year a further $9,000 in their pockets every year.
The real barrier is not the cost but having to admit that not having a job is not usually the fault of the unemployed. It means recognising that the failure of the economy and the circumstances an individual may find themselves in that are the causes. Neither fits in with the narrative that the market fixes everything.
Many Australians had hoped that this way of thinking would have ended with the coming of the Albanese government. But to get into government, Labor had sought to woo wealthy backers from the Coalition, assuring them that it would protect their interests.
The report, however, indicates that the view of much of Labor is nor in accord with this and really wants policies that promote fairness, equality, and inclusion. This is in accord with the range of welfare organisations, unions, and the combination of Green and independent members of parliament.
It is suggested that these are the ones who represent the true view of most Australians.