What our politicians said about raising Newstart allowance
PAGE MP Kevin Hogan does not appear to back some of his Nationals colleagues in calling for the Coalition to increase unemployment benefits - specifically by raising the Newstart allowance.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was recently under fire to increase unemployment benefits from within his own ranks, with MPs saying despite crucial government spending on the drought, bushfire recovery, floods and managing the coronavirus, poverty needed to be addressed in rural and regional areas.
Cowper MP Pat Conaghan last week broke ranks by demanding the Coalition raise Newstart by $75 per week.
But Mr Hogan, who seemed to avert the question when asked his opinion, said: "I have empathy for the call to increase Newstart … that being said it does increase every six months".
"The increase is linked to the Consumer Price Index," Mr Hogan said.
"There is no bill or legislation before the house on this issue to vote on."
Richmond MP Justine Elliot echoed the call for Newstart needing to be increased.
"I've said publicly and in the federal parliament there is an urgent need to raise the rate of Newstart," Ms Elliot said.
"The Morrison Liberal National Government continues to ignore the calls to increase Newstart.
"On the North Coast we have a massive housing affordability and homelessness crisis, and people receiving Centrelink benefits are the hardest hit.
"Families and individuals without secure full-time employment who rely on some sort of Centrelink allowance to survive are really doing it tough; they are struggling."
She said with a quarter of Newstart recipients aged 55 or over, many locals who've worked all their lives are now living in poverty and struggling to find affordable accommodation.
"The current single rate of Newstart is $279 per week or less than $40 per day," she said.
"This is less than 40 per cent of the minimum wage and has not been increased in real terms for 25 years, since 1994.
"The government needs to increase wages and boost the economy and lift people out of poverty."