Bill to boost Newstart

PERTH-based Greens senator Rachel Siewert will submit a bill to federal parliament in August backing Fremantle council’s call for the Newstart allowance to be increased.

Two weeks ago the southern suburbs council showed it hadn’t been silenced by the ticking off it got from the Turnbull government over shelving Australia Day celebrations, delving back into federal politics to tell the PM people the dole wasn’t delivering basic standards of living.

“Please consider this letter to be formal acknowledgement that the council of the City of Fremantle recognises that the current rate of Newstart allowance is exacerbating poverty and homelessness,” mayor Brad Pettitt wrote to relevant ministers and state MPs and senators last week.

The motion was accompanied by a 385-signature petition calling for the council to advocate on behalf of the city’s downtrodden.

• Rachel Siewert speaking at a rally. File photo by STEVE GRANT

Liveable rate

“There has not been a significant increase to Newstart in over 20 years, despite the cost of living continuing to rise,” the petition read.

“Recent research showed that Newstart and Commonwealth rent assistance are $96 short of meeting a basic standard of living for a single person.”

Senator Siewert praised Fremantle for its bold gesture.

“Alongside economists, social services organisations and even John Howard, the City of Fremantle has stood up for Australians looking for work and called for Newstart to be increased to a liveable rate,” she said.

“The payment has stagnated for years and right now the payment is not enough to get by, people are living in poverty and expected to find a job at the same time.

“I urge the government to support my bill that would increase the payment by $75 a week.

“As it stands, $40 a day is not enough to pay for basic necessities and people trying to find work deserve dignity and quality of life.”

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