Push for dole lift

NORTHBRIDGE-based Greens senator Rachel Siewert has marked anti-poverty week by claiming the Morrison government is demonising people on the dole.

The Greens have a bill before parliament that was due to be debated on Thursday, calling for the Newstart and Youth Allowance to be raised by $75 a week.

It follows research by Deloitte Access Economics earlier this year for the Australian Council of Social Services that showed raising the dole could help kickstart local economies.

Sen Siewert says while the government talks up trying to fix mental health and conquering poverty, its policies were punishing people and pushing them further down the economic ladder.

“We cannot be looking at poverty, mental health and our community’s wellbeing without looking at how we provide services and supports and our social policy,” Sen Siewert says.

Demonise

“The Coalition has an agenda and it is to stigmatise and demonise people accessing our social safety net.”

The Greens have an unlikely ally in their push; former Liberal prime minister John Howard, who recently argued that a 24-year freeze on raising Newstart has probably run its race.

However, prime minister Scott Morrison refused to entertain an increase when developing the last budget, saying despite better economic figures, Australia was still in deficit and not in a position to help the unemployed with a pay rise.

The dole was not a wage, he said, but a payment to tide you over on the way to a new job.

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