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‘They’re a group doing it tough’: PM knocks back Newstart rise, citing deficit

Michael McLaren

The Coalition has rejected calls to inject the Newstart allowance with a rise.

Citing the budget deficit as a justification for keeping the payment as is, Scott Morrison said fiscal responsibility and conservatism was warranted until Australia shook off its level of debt.

But one of Australia’s chief economists says budget repair should not be prioritised over a rise to the $272.90 a week payments, with the figure representing just 48% of the minimum wage.

“As a long time campaigner for budget repair, I would still put raising the unemployment benefit ahead of budget repair,” Richardson tells Michael McLaren.

“The reason is it has suffered under a quarter of a century of neglect. It’s been shrinking as a share of wages, shrinking as a share of the aged pension. They’re a group that’s doing it tough.”

“If we’re truly going to help people, to give them money to live with dignity and got out and get that next job, we need to do better than we’re doing.”

Michael McLaren agrees, saying that the deficit doesn’t stack up as a good enough reason to evade a rise.

“Canberra have been dishing up deficits for the last 10 years, but that hasn’t stopped our backbenchers enjoying a 54% pay rise,” he says.

“They pocket $3,900 a week. The poor bugger on Newstart grabs but $272.”


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Michael McLaren