Coalition MPs want to cut coronavirus supplements, but boost base rates

Supplement ‘unsustainable’ but pre-pandemic base rates ‘too low’, say MPs.

Barnaby Joyce

An increasing number of older Australians are reliant on JobSeeker payments.

At least 10 Coalition MPs want to cut the JobSeeker supplement next year, but most would like to see some sort of increase to the welfare payment.

Barnaby Joyce said the old rate was too low, but the coronavirus supplement currently being paid is unsustainable.

“It still needs to be increased but we now have a massive debt,” Mr Joyce told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“The generosity possible pre-COVID will not be possible now.

“Returning to $280 a week would be fairly cruel and [an] unusual punishment,” said member for Cowper in NSW Pat Conaghan.

This could be good news for the increasing number of older Australians reliant on the payment.

As YourLifeChoices reported earlier this month, the most recent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) report revealed that the typical ‘welfare’ recipient is now aged 55 or older.

An increasing number of those older Australians relying on the payments are women aged over 60, who are also staying on the payment for longer, because they have been moved from partner payments to JobSeeker payments, but also due to the increase in the Age Pension qualifying age.

New research shows increasing unemployment benefits by $200 a fortnight would cost $7 billion a year.

Prior to the pandemic, the JobSeeker payment equated to $40 a day.

The federal government is expected to end the $250-a-fortnight coronavirus supplement currently being paid to about 1.4 million recipients by the middle of next year.

This is a reduction from the $550-a-fortnight paid on top of the base rate of $565.70 for singles ($1115.70 total) at the peak of the pandemic.

While Coalition MPs believe the current payment rate discourages recipients from finding a job, most say the dole should not return to its pre-pandemic level.

The government must balance the need for temporary support for the unemployed and incentivising people to take up work when it becomes available, says Social Services Minister Anne Ruston.

To that end, recipients can now earn up to $300 per fortnight before it affects their payment.

“This means people on JobSeeker can work about two days a fortnight at minimum wage without losing a single cent of their social security cheque,” said Ms Ruston.

The Business Council of Australia says the JobSeeker base rate should be between 75 per cent and 90 per cent of the Age Pension rate, which is $860.60 a fortnight for a single.

The unemployment benefit rate was around 60 per cent of the Age Pension.

Increasing the JobSeeker rate to 80 per cent of the Age Pension would give single recipients $688.50 a fortnight, up from pre-pandemic rates of $565.70 per fortnight, says Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre modelling.

This would cost around $3.87 billion a year to support the 1.4 million people currently unemployed, but could come down to around $2.57 billion should the jobless figure come down to 1 million.

Even at this payment rate and with maximum rent assistance and supplements, “recipients [would still be living] substantially below the current Australian poverty line", say Curtin researchers, who calculate the poverty line at $950-a-fortnight for a single person.

They say JobSeeker should be paid at 90 per cent of the Age Pension, to bring recipients just under the poverty line.

This would take payments to $774.50 a fortnight and would cost around $6.96 billion a year at the current rate of unemployment or $4.71 billion if the job market recovered.

Labor, the Greens, social welfare groups and many economists endorse a permanent increase to the base rate.

Member for Victoria’s Mallee, Anne Webster, says no “amount of welfare payment is enough ... but it’s not supposed to be, it’s supposed to stimulate people to apply for jobs”.

While 78 per cent of those surveyed in our Age Pension or increase Newstart: which one should be a priority? flash poll back in 2018 said that the JobSeeker base rate should be increased.

Almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) said they could not live on $40 per day.

“Newstart seems cruel for people who cannot find a job and have tried with no success,” wrote YourLifeChoices member Paddington.

“Maybe age of unemployed is relevant as older ones would be in more distress than a teenager or very young one who can stay home with mum and dad. One size may not fit all.

“Some older workers who are unemployed are in limbo and using up their savings and super in their 50s and 60s. An employer does not have to state that age is an impediment to getting the job, they simply don’t choose an older person.

“Single pensioners who are renting seem to be struggling, so again, individual circumstances need to be considered for elderly people.

“We can never judge why people are in financial distress as individual circumstances are so different.”

What do you think? Would you like to see an increase to JobSeeker base rates?

If you enjoy our content, don’t keep it to yourself. Share our free eNews with your friends and encourage them to sign up.

RELATED ARTICLES





    COMMENTS

    To make a comment, please register or login
    Bindad
    26th Oct 2020
    10:16am
    Yes Centrelink benefit is too low for older jobseekers as they are possibly renting have debt due to loss of jobs.
    But also the pension is too low for people paying rent.
    Older Australians that have worked all theirs lives paying tax deserve to live a life albeit a modest life free from struggle. Not every Australian had the opportunity to buy a home and save enough to assist them them in their later years. Politicians have no qualms about taking massive salaries and superannuation benefits not available to thousands of others.
    The Thinker
    26th Oct 2020
    11:17am
    I agree the payment is too low. Governments will have a dilemma on their hands with escalating population growth and no job growth problem. The welfare bill will escalate and they will not be able to accommodate the demand in a post-pandemic world. Eventually, welfare won't exist as it currently does. Our Government depends on cash strapped Chinese for money that won't save Australia's poverty issues.
    Mariner
    26th Oct 2020
    12:41pm
    Maybe the re-introduction of the Mature Age Allowance would be called for. Remember that at all? People over a certain age got the allowance without having to look for work. Pointless using up the time of the people involved in looking for work and wasting time for employers having to interview older folks when they have no intention of giving them work.
    Arvo
    26th Oct 2020
    2:15pm
    I agree. "Politicians have no qualms about taking massive salaries and superannuation benefits not available to thousands of others"...Add, to that -Government owned corporate executives, Public Servants and the Judiciary-.

    What would happen if everyone got paid the same?

    While it would raise some objections, extra profits could go to the government. No one would have to pay taxes, and the government could run some well-funded social programs. All produced wealth could go toward providing health services, parks, roads and schools.

    Source: What if everyone had the same salary? | HowStuffWorks
    80 plus
    26th Oct 2020
    10:36am
    I suggest the unemployed need more assistance than those on $180000 a year need tax cuts, but it is not down to needs but to political dogma.
    Anonymous
    26th Oct 2020
    10:41am
    Have to agree with that, 80 plus. The tax cuts to high income earners are inexcusably irresponsible.
    Mariner
    26th Oct 2020
    12:42pm
    Amen to that!
    tobymyers
    26th Oct 2020
    10:56am
    Ridiculous and over complicated .
    One base benefit for all and then means tested to the cost of living or the minimum wage before it's gone very simple straight forward not complex and the saving in administration and policing would be billions of dollars each year .
    Take it out of the hands of Centrelink and hand it over to the ATO to run.
    You must all file a tax return regardless of income the computers would be geared to either the minimum cost of living or the minimum wage for individuals or some where in between and would apply the necessary reductions in benefit .
    Anonymous
    26th Oct 2020
    5:48pm
    Many years ago, an economist suggested abolishing all welfare and basing everything on tax returns, with a proviso that if someone's income was below a given threshold, they would get a cheque from the ATO to make up to that threshold. Everyone, therefore, would receive a guaranteed minimum income. Those whose income was above the threshold would pay tax. Simple and efficient. The problem was that welfare recipients would only be paid once a year - in a lump sum. Given that many can't budget to pay a monthly or quarterly phone or electricity bill, we could hardly expect them to manage an annual budget!
    Mariner
    26th Oct 2020
    6:16pm
    Make that weekly mate - good post but!
    Farside
    26th Oct 2020
    6:45pm
    No argument from me with ATO administering social security payments. Apparently ATO systems are able to react faster and cope better with volatile circumstances. My recollection of the discussion is the ATO declarations would be made fortnightly (I guess much like the present Centrelink app) and there would be an annual reckoning to see which way the balance flowed - this addresses the household budgeting issue. One issue not so easily addressed at the time was the privacy concerns around data shared with employer(s) but with today's tech would be a doddle to work around.

    I suspect this would be popular reform in the electorate so how about it LNP/ALP?
    Anonymous
    27th Oct 2020
    8:11am
    A great system in theory, Farside, but the annual reckoning becomes problematical when people have been overpaid during the year because of fluctuating income patterns. Getting it back from people who have spent it has been proven to be virtually impossible.
    Mariner
    27th Oct 2020
    9:37am
    Suppose it would be easier for me - I grew up under that system. Tax year is the calendar year, January/February you had to prepare the tax return sheets, and then they work out how much you owe them for the entire year, no tax taken out from salary, only pension contributions. You pay the full year's tax in one go. I know it would never work here, people here hardly plan anything.
    Farside
    27th Oct 2020
    5:15pm
    youngagain, true however the fortnightly declarations and systems monitoring would mitigate the amount of overpayments, so no system is perfect. Which side do you err on? Those who need help might involve unnecessary hardship, exposure to parasitic lenders or even die before support is given if waiting a year before making an application.
    SuziJ
    27th Oct 2020
    7:44pm
    When an employer pays you, all the information is sent directly to the ATO after you've been paid. Group certificates are virtually a thing of the past, as the ATO automatically knows how much you've earned and how much tax you've paid.
    SuziJ
    26th Oct 2020
    11:03am
    If the current rate of the poverty line is $950 per fortnight, then why don't they increase the single rate of the Pension to $950? Currently we receive $944.30, which puts us below the poverty line. Is there any wonder why we cry poor all the time?
    Dotty
    26th Oct 2020
    12:17pm
    Agree SuziJ

    Dotty
    Mariner
    26th Oct 2020
    12:48pm
    SuziJ - you are allowed to have extra money, not everyone on the full pension is totally without other funds, I do not think I would be too worried about the $5.70 difference. I am positive that if the pension would go to $1100 pf there would be posts next week about it not being enough. Every dollar C/L gives me somebody pays in. At the moment we DO have a lot of people in this country who NEVER paid anything in when they could have. Sad but true.
    SuziJ
    27th Oct 2020
    7:51pm
    Mariner, I'm one of those without other funds - no super, savings, nothing.

    It's very hard to save on the pension by itself.

    I'm under whealmed with the $1083.90 per fortnight I receive (including rent assistance), but the squeeze on my budget from food to fuel is getting very real. Where do I, at 64 and on the DSP get any further funds? There's just no work out there for a qualified bookkeeper with limited capacity to work any more than 8 hours per week.

    I will let you know that I live in a Rural City, as the rents are soooo very expensive anywhere else.
    Peter H
    26th Oct 2020
    11:21am
    I am not aware of the change to allow Jobseeker recipients to earn up to $300 a fortnight without any loss of the Jobseeker allowance. I receive Jobseeker. I do earn some income but I have been losing 50 cents for each $1 earned once I have earned $100 a fortnight. If this change is recent and yet to filter through I think it is a good change. An increase in the base rate would be appreciated, particularly by those who do not earn any additional income but this change makes any extra income more worthwhile. If not true, Anne Ruston should get her facts right.
    sunnyOz
    26th Oct 2020
    4:57pm
    Peter - scroll down this page. See highlighted in yellow. Was from Sept 25th.

    https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/jobseeker-payment/how-much-you-can-get/income-and-assets-tests#:~:text=If%20you%20get%20JobSeeker%20Payment,each%20dollar%20over%20this%20amount.
    Russell
    26th Oct 2020
    11:37am
    The government could save a lot and reduce the debt quite easy if their perks were removed and their incomes reduced to a reasonable level, but that will never happen because it is them that are the burden on the country. Scomo the 5th highest paid country leader in the world and what about all the other perks he gets. He is not worth that amount of pay and neither is any of the current politicians.
    Dotty
    26th Oct 2020
    12:16pm
    Agree with you on that statement Russell
    Dotty
    Mariner
    26th Oct 2020
    12:51pm
    Have you ever tried to get the pig's head out of the trough when it is feeding? I worked on a farm and I know that is an impossibility as well as dangerous. Similar danger as getting between a pot of money and a developer.
    Peter H
    26th Oct 2020
    12:56pm
    There is the other argument that the Prime Minister doesn't get paid enough to ensure we get the best available.
    Tanker
    26th Oct 2020
    1:58pm
    The party political system ensures that we get a P.M. that the party want. Democracy has nothing to do with it and it has always been that way.
    Paying the P.M. more will not ensure we get a better P.M.
    Buggsie
    26th Oct 2020
    1:59pm
    The problem is that the current "pigs head" group in Canberra don't warrant an increase in salary. Did we hear a plan to cut parliamentary salaries and benefits to assist with the current pandemic crisis? Not likely, and we never will - in fact, aren't the current group of greedy trough feeders due for their annual increase soon?
    Anonymous
    26th Oct 2020
    5:53pm
    The argument that we have to pay more to get better talent is a load of BS. As an employer, decades ago, I always dismissed any job applicant who made that claim or implied that they were worth more than I was offering because they of their superior ability. I consistently found that the best and most capable workers were those who were grateful for a job, fair conditions and reasonable pay. Those that thought they were worth more invariably proved to be worth little or nothing.

    Now, when purchasing services, I always avoid those who charge high and also the cheapest. I go for a quote that is just below the mid-range. I find the most expensive providers are full of hot air and ego, and invariably lousy providers with a poor attitude.
    Anonymous
    26th Oct 2020
    5:54pm
    I should add that our politicians - almost without exception - are lousy providers with poor attitudes.
    Dotty
    26th Oct 2020
    12:15pm
    Yes definitely an increase in the older Jobseeker payments as most have worked all their lives for a reasonable wage and then now because of Covid they were stood down on jobseeker or pushed out the door because of age and they are in Limbo with little income to survive on ! So yes I agree to a 90% increase so just below the aged although on that I struggle and was one of those that worked all their lives and was stood down because of age years ago and no Super as that never came in while I was working so I now survive soley on the aged Pension and its very hard !
    And I neither smoke,Drink nor go out and live alone !
    Dotty
    Mariner
    26th Oct 2020
    12:58pm
    I go out every day, Dotty, I do drink socially in my local pub, do not gamble and I do not have a motor vehicle (use public transport and made sure I live in an area with that when I retired). And I could live on the full pension, I have checked my expenses and a lot of my mates are on full AP. I have a part pension and pay $5300 for health insurance per year. That I could no longer afford on the full pension.
    Never forget - when the age pension was thought of private vehicles were never part of the deal, neither were mobile social media devices. A reason why the pension will never be enough.
    Farside
    26th Oct 2020
    6:52pm
    I wonder if there is a "typical" pensioner profile that identifies how a pensioner might spend income. Clearly homeowner and non-homeowner would have different living circumstances as would those with chronic illnesses and those in good health, so might need different types.
    Mark
    26th Oct 2020
    12:55pm
    If payments to job seekers are increased then you increase the incentive not to look for work. If you do increase payments then you have be very diligent to ensure that people are making genuine attempts to secure employment, which is not done at the moment.
    Peter H
    26th Oct 2020
    12:59pm
    I disagree when it comes to older Australians. Most of us have worked long enough to know we are better off with a job than without. Younger Australians who have done very little work in their lives do not seem to have the enthusiasm anyway.
    Mariner
    26th Oct 2020
    1:01pm
    Got a point Mark. Looking back to my young years I could agree that I would accept the free money and not look for work unless it was lucrative to do so. Was King Take IT Easy when I was young.
    KSS
    26th Oct 2020
    1:35pm
    Yes Mark and there is already growing evidence of this with the higher levels of Jobseeker payments and people not bothering to look for work even when it is available. Employers who before COVID-19 could expect to get quite literally hundreds of applications for jobs are now getting less than 20. There was one who only got 17 applications, he called all of them and 14 never bothered to respond to him.

    Welfare should be a safety net and never a lifestyle choice - regardless of age.
    Farside
    26th Oct 2020
    6:56pm
    the potential for increased jobseeker payments to be a disincentive to work could be an important issue when approaching full employment, but the record job gains in recent months debunk that chestnut while unemployment, underemployment and job insecurity is high.
    Anonymous
    27th Oct 2020
    8:09am
    I think those who claim welfare is a 'lifestyle choice' are basically ignorant of the reality faced by many of those who rely on it long term. It's way too easy to look at someone and say 'he chooses not to work' when you don't have any understanding of the challenges he faces. There are many jobs that may be available to a particular individual that the individual simply could not do without suffering such mental agony that life would not be worth living. When someone is poorly educated, denied opportunity, emotionally abused, etc., they may find it impossible to access the kind of work that offers even a modest degree of satisfaction. They may find the jobs available to them are completely and utterly soul-destroying. If they have no hope for improvement, welfare is often a far wiser choice. I've seen people suicide because they were forced into jobs that they were mentally and/or physically grossly unsuited to.

    People of substantial intelligence and/or with sophisticated skills or talents often simply cannot take on menial jobs that offer no mental challenge. Those with milder and less obvious physical disabilities may still find jobs that are physically demanding impossible. People who have intermittent bouts of illness may be unable to manage consistent work even though they are often fit and well and their illness is neither apparent to observers nor sufficiently serious to meet the harsh requirements to qualify for sickness of disability benefits.

    If we focused a little less on punishing people and a little more on matching people to the right opportunities, we might have far fewer choosing welfare as a life style. I experienced, first hand, the emotional devastation of being forced into unsatisfactory work with no reasonable hope of improvement. I was lucky. I found my way out of the hole and into a rewarding career, but it was unbelievably difficult. It required enormous strength, substantial intelligence, courage to buck the system (even cheat at times - despite that being very much against my personal principles), endless patience and fierce determination - and a lot of good luck.

    I have worked with people whose early disadvantage was so severe that finding rewarding employment in our society is genuinely an impossibility. Many of them chose work over welfare, and it did destroy them - completely and utterly, both psychologically and physically. To the outsider, these people would have appeared healthy, capable, and perfectly suited to the jobs they were doing. Few would ever have detected the suffering they endured having to get up and go to work every day. Few could even begin to imagine the hell they lived, every day - in both physical and emotional agony that made welfare look extremely attractive. Among them, a few chose to quit and abuse the system for a time in order to work their way into a more satisfying career - starting their own business (unbelievably hard without capital, contacts, business management skills, etc, but some succeeded), or retraining (a little easier in today's world, but well-nigh impossible in past decades). Many just ended their hell either by suiciding, resorting to alcohol or drug abuse, or just choosing long-term welfare (often by faking severe disability or illness).

    The problem of people choosing welfare over work is far more complex than any of us choose to believe, and can never be solved by punishing that choice or depriving people so severely that they are forced to accept just any job that might be offered. We have structured society to ensure the privileged are offered the good jobs and the under-privileged suffer ongoing social and emotional abuse. Deprivation, and accusation of abusing the welfare system, is the penultimate abuse, compounding countless years of suffering abuse and deprivation in childhood and early adult years.

    Perhaps putting trained psychologists and physicians in Centerlink to assess applicants for unemployment and disability benefits would be a helpful move? But then, they are also, often, too privileged to properly comprehend the agony some of the underprivileged or abused endure. I think maybe most would have to have been there to understand.
    Mark
    27th Oct 2020
    12:28pm
    Replaying to young again
    Well thought out and articulated argument.
    KSS
    27th Oct 2020
    1:13pm
    Youngagain...."People of substantial intelligence and/or with sophisticated skills or talents often simply cannot take on menial jobs that offer no mental challenge."

    Seriously??? A job is a job. And it is well proven it is easier to get a job when you have a job. People need to be less of a job-snob and take any job they are capable of doing. In fact those are the rules of searching for a job when you are on welfare.
    Farside
    27th Oct 2020
    5:37pm
    it's not necessarily a job snob issue. Providing a scarce menial job to an experienced manager in a period of high unemployment just means that menial job is not available to someone unsuited to any other job. Context is everything when we are so far from full employment. By all means put the overqualified person in a vacant menial role when there are no challenged people better suited to it.
    Anonymous
    28th Oct 2020
    10:59am
    KSS, you are showing your ignorance of the psychological impact of demeaning and boring work on someone who has been socially and economically disadvantaged. Or maybe you just don't care about their mental health. I referred specifically to people who have no hope of improvement - those with no ability but no qualifications because of systemic disadvantage or psychological problems resulting from early abuse and deprivation. There is no 'better job' for them, no matter how hard they strive. And claims that it's easier to get a job when you have a job are pure BS. You can't travel to seek other work. You can't get time off for interviews. You are too tired to scan the internet and newspapers for ads. You are just exhausted, frustrated, and discouraged by the boredom and misery of unsuitable work and feeling hopeless. I know. Unlike you (apparently) I've been there. I had to quit and cheat on welfare to escape the trap. I tried other ways. It was hopeless. I've watched hundreds destroy themselves trying. I paid my dues. I ran a business that gave hope to 25 people and paid payroll tax (among other taxes) for years. But I had to cheat the system to escape menial work so I could actually do something rewarding.

    They are NOT 'JOB SNOBS'. They are people who live in emotional and often physical hell when forced into unsuitable work - and they become understandably angry and desperate when that hell is because ignorant, arrogant, selfish people continue the abuse that caused their problems in the first place.

    Yes, the rules say you should take any job. And to a large extent, the rules are the reason our society is in such a bad state. If we had it right, we wouldn't have the problems we are seeing.
    Anonymous
    28th Oct 2020
    11:06am
    Whoops... that was meant to read 'with ability but no qualifications'. I'm talking about people who never got a chance to get qualifications, but do have considerable ability. There are lots of them, and our stinking SNOB system makes their lives a misery. It's not they who are snobs. It's the arrogant bullies who try to suggest they should have to take ANY job, no matter how demoralizing, simply because they were deprived earlier in life.
    Anonymous
    28th Oct 2020
    12:32pm
    Farside, I wasn't referring to qualified managers. I was referring to people with considerable natural ability but no formal qualifications due to early deprivation. Put them in menial jobs and you destroy them - if abuse and deprivation hadn't destroyed them already. It's the ongoing abuse of those who are where they are because of early abuse that irks me.

    That said, I agree to a point with your comment. But many of those 'experienced' and 'qualified' folk who are jobless are jobless because they actually can't perform. I suspect the really good ones don't have much trouble finding suitable employment.
    Farside
    28th Oct 2020
    3:21pm
    Youngagain, I was specifically addressing KSS point about a job is a job however the numbers suggest you think incorrectly on people not having much trouble finding suitable employment. Simply, there are many experienced and capable people unable to find suitable gainful employment despite making efforts to do so. In a full employment environment employers desperate for workers would have little choice but to give workers a chance despite their experience and qualifications in another field.
    Anonymous
    29th Oct 2020
    8:42am
    I repeat, the really good ones don't have much trouble finding suitable employment. There are still a lot of jobs available, and employers will always try to hire the best available. We have high unemployment. We also have a lot of 'qualified' people who are useless. And a lot of people who would love the chance to be qualified but never get it.
    Barbara Mathieson
    26th Oct 2020
    1:25pm
    Yes needs an increase.
    Plus single pensions on full pension in private rentals please!!
    KSS
    26th Oct 2020
    1:37pm
    In that case it is not the pension that needs to be increased but the rental supplement. And that would be far easier to account for the differences in rentals in different locations.
    Anonymous
    26th Oct 2020
    6:09pm
    I don't agree with a rental supplement. Home owners often have higher costs than renters, after decades of struggling to pay off a mortgage. I do agree with providing very basic public housing, but not with giving people choices to use taxpayer money to indulge preferences that many home owners can't afford to indulge. I can't choose where to live or what size house to live in, yet I know many renters who are getting assistance to pay far higher rent than necessary - just because they want a bigger house in a better location. I also know renters who are paying just to get the rent assistance and getting the rent money back in cash from the landlord as payment for caretaking duties or babysitting.
    KSS
    26th Oct 2020
    1:30pm
    "“Maybe age of unemployed is relevant as older ones would be in more distress than a teenager or very young one who can stay home with mum and dad. One size may not fit all."

    Oh really? And yet the highest sucide rates are among the young! Are they suggesting that the payment rate be made according to level of 'distress"?

    Frankly I am getting just a bit sick of the generations being played off against each other as to who is the 'most deserving'. If the older generation had debts and this is an excuse to pay them more perhaps they need a budeting class first! being in debt is NOT an excuse for greater welfare.
    Triss
    26th Oct 2020
    3:17pm
    Debt is not always through frivolous living, KSS, there are a lot of tragedies, unforeseen expenses and family support expenses that plunge people into near poverty.
    tobymyers
    26th Oct 2020
    4:14pm
    YES KSS you have a warped view of life being in debt is a fact of life and just because you are debt free does not mean everyone has or will live by your rules. Maybe you have emotional debt ?
    KSS
    26th Oct 2020
    4:38pm
    Emotional debt? You mean like you tobymyers??

    None of you here have any idea about what I may or may not have faced in my lifetime so you and Triss can just stop making assumptions or keep them to yourself.
    sunnyOz
    26th Oct 2020
    5:20pm
    I don't really care what you have faced in your lifetime, but everyone is different. No two people are the same. Life takes different courses, and it is wrong for you to be so judgmental. Divorce, abuse, family discord, lack of educational facilities - the list goes on. Just be a little more compassionate, that's all.
    Anonymous
    26th Oct 2020
    6:06pm
    That's true, sunnyOZ. But it's also a fact that a huge percentage of welfare recipients are economically irresponsible, and the system rewards irresponsibility and manipulation and punishes those who do the right thing and help the economy. If the powers-that-be had the good sense to change the system to remove the penalties for honesty and responsible living and remove the rewards for dishonesty, manipulation, laziness and overspending, we might have a hope of improving things for everyone.
    Farside
    26th Oct 2020
    7:15pm
    imagine for a moment how your communities might look if Centrelink welfare was removed and replaced with something more akin to that found in developing countries, simply because someone judged the recipient as dishonest, manipulatives, lazy, profligate or otherwise unworthy.
    Anonymous
    27th Oct 2020
    7:39am
    I didn't suggest that we do that, Farside. I suggested that we stop punishing people for living responsibly. Abolish the means test and tax retirement income and you have incentives for people to be more fiscally responsible. With the incentive to manipulate or cheat removed, only those who simply don't know how to manage money and cannot learn, or the tiny minority of genuinely disadvantaged (with emphasis on 'genuinely') would retire poor.

    In other words, I'm suggesting we introduce something more akin to the system used in DEVELOPED and emotionally mature countries like US, UK, NZ, etc. - countries where work and fiscal responsibility is rewarded, not punished.
    Farside
    27th Oct 2020
    5:50pm
    your argument for not punishing people for living responsibly would be more convincing if it was not conflated with "remove the rewards for dishonesty, manipulation, laziness and overspending," ... presumably these are different cohorts?

    I still contend many communities would prefer not to have the homeless, helpless and hapless with no means of support living amongst them. There is a social price for living in safe and healthy communities with lower rates of petty crime than might otherwise be the case if desperation prevailed.
    Anonymous
    28th Oct 2020
    10:44am
    Farside, it's interesting to note that we had far fewer 'homeless, helpless and hapless with no means of support' when we had a system that was fairer to those who strive and a little less overly generous to the manipulators and cheats.

    Of course there is a social price for living in a safe and healthy community, and it's called 'TAXATION'. A proper, progressive tax system, rather than a stupid greed-based welfare system that rewards irresponsibility and manipulation would deliver a safer and healthier community by encouraging the behaviours that drive social improvement, while ensuring that the most privileged pay a fair contribution for the benefits they enjoy.
    Anonymous
    28th Oct 2020
    10:48am
    Tell me just how, Farside, you get a healthier society by depriving a struggling SFR and giving huge handouts to someone who owns a $1.5 million dollar home and gave $2 mil to their kids? How do you get a healthier society by giving someone who fakes disability and lies about inheritance a pension and rent assistance while a battling honest pensioner lives in their own falling-down shack, unable to repair it or move, but gets no help to improve their accommodation because they were honest and diligent?

    We DO need to remove the rewards for dishonesty, manipulation, laziness and overspending. That doesn't mean we leave the struggling to starve. It simply means we don't prioritize rewarding them at the expense of strugglers who actually try to stand on their own too feet.
    Farside
    28th Oct 2020
    3:54pm
    The principles for a fair progressive tax system i.e. putting money in the government coffers according to capacity, is entirely separate to the welfare system i.e. taking money from the government coffers. You could just as likely have a fair progressive tax system with a crap welfare system as well as a disproportionate tax system with a generous targeted welfare system. Obviously in the long run it is unsustainable to pay out more revenue than that raised. The trick is for government to make its tax and welfare policies reasonable and sustainable.

    Addressing struggling SFR finances and dodgy welfare claims are independent challenges - both should be done but one is not dependent upon the other.

    Your deprived SFR would still be deprived regardless whether another SFR gamed the welfare system to qualify for a handout was caught out or not. Your deprived SFR is still deprived whether a liar fakes a disability (this requires a medical conspirator to aid the fraud) is punished or not.

    Your battling pensioner does not miss out on support because they were honest and diligent but because the support is not there; that is an issue with the welfare system. A similar issue has been raised in relation to maintenance of welfare housing with many homes in disrepair, experiencing damp and mould etc and affecting health of inhabitants.
    Anonymous
    29th Oct 2020
    8:39am
    Wrong, Farside, sorry. Your battling pensioner misses out because the tax system favours high income earners excessively and the pension system favours spendthrifts, manipulators and cheats. It all works together. The level of funds available depends on the amount collected and the manner in which that amount is spent. Our system is messed up because the top end pay far too little and get far too much and the welfare system is a disaster. You can't separate the parts of the system and expect everything to work well. You have to treat the system as a whole and make sure all parts of it are structured to achieve one objective - that of equity and overall social health. Sadly, nobody much in power now has that focus.

    BTW. Recently there was an inquiry into the retirement system. One of the questions related to how well the pension and superannuation system work together to achieve the same desired outcomes. They DON'T. That's a huge part of the problem in this country. They may claim the same goals, but they work in opposition to each other. The rich get huge handouts to fund retirement, despite the fact that they will never need that money. 80% of the billions spent on superannuation tax concessions (totalling more than the total cost of the OAP) goes to folk who will never need help to fund retirement. Meanwhile, the pension system focuses on paying as little as possible to anyone who demonstrates even minimal capacity to part-fund their retirement. The strugglers in society miss out at both ends - minimal superannuation tax concessions because they can't make huge contributions, and minimal pension because they sacrifice and save a little. Totally opposite goals. No wonder the system is a mess!
    Mariner
    29th Oct 2020
    9:54pm
    Thanks Youngagain for your input, quite meaty and pertinent, a lot to digest but true nevertheless. They miss you in Parliament, they only have 50% of your understanding.
    Eddy
    26th Oct 2020
    2:02pm
    I do not subscribe to the idea that we have to keep the 'dole' cruelly low or unemployed people will be reluctant to find a job.
    There are of course people who are genuinely 'work shy' and nothing we do is likely to change that, lets just write them off and pay them to stay home and try to help those who want to work. If we make the payment too low then genuine job seekers are unfairly penalised and the 'work shy' are more likely to resort to low level property crime (ie house break-ins, shop lifting and car theft) to supplement their social security payments.
    If the poverty line is currently about $950 f/n that seems an appropriate figure to set as a baseline for all social security payments. In terms of stimulating the economy it makes sense to give money to people at the base of the income pyramid rather than tax cuts to those up near the apex.
    I also suggest that to discourage the 'workshy' from crime that providing a facial recognition photo, fingerprints and a DNA sample be conditions for receiving the 'dole' for extended periods (ie greater than 6 months). It may make Centrelink's task easier if they can be assured the person across the counter is the person they claim to be and to identify criminals who use multiple identities to defraud Centrelink.
    In light of recent news, is there any ethical difference between a 'dole bludger' and high paid public employees who receive valuable watches as 'gifts' for doing what they are paid to do or having their 'private' expenses reimbursed from the public purse?
    Triss
    26th Oct 2020
    3:29pm
    I’d definitely class those watches as a corrupt procedure.
    KSS
    26th Oct 2020
    4:39pm
    Hardly corrupt Triss they were declared in the Australia Post accounts. But not a good look I grant you.
    Anonymous
    26th Oct 2020
    6:04pm
    I agree, Eddy. The work shy won't change no matter what you do. Neither will the cheats - unless caught and prosecuted. But giving a little more to the genuinely unemployed would stimulate economic growth and enable some to invest to improve their chances of finding work (eg. dress better, travel further to interviews etc., take short training courses, agree to work for free for a few weeks to demonstrate capability...even agree to relocate to secure employment). Searching for work is costly. If the government wants people to be more proactive, it needs to ensure they can cover the costs. And if a person is genuinely sick, incapacitated, or unable to find suitable work no matter how hard they try, they do not deserve to have to live in poverty.

    Of course, when the overpaid heads of our corporate watchdog are corrupt and stealing from the public purse, it's hard to imagine that the privileged and powerful could have much sympathy for the down and out.
    Buggsie
    26th Oct 2020
    2:02pm
    Irrespective of age, sex or employment status, in a wealthy country like Australia NOBODY should be living below the poverty line. We need a social reset - if only we had a visionary leader who was motivated enough to press the reset button!
    tobymyers
    26th Oct 2020
    4:16pm
    For sure, unfortunately government being capitalists have an agenda to keep the poor poor and the rich rich and to use the worker for the benefit of making the rich richer. France had the solution many years ago when they started cutting off heads.
    Mariner
    26th Oct 2020
    6:19pm
    You could get a government where your head gets cut off. Look at the history of Chile.
    panos
    26th Oct 2020
    4:35pm
    Instead of throwing our money at countries in overseas aid some 4 billion dollars + yearly which i assume goes to the politicians bank accounts of these rorting countires and that's not counting the $$$ Red Cross and all the other tax free charities are spending as well overseas, how about spending it at home where it is needed.

    Dont get me started on these corporations with there supposed tax losses so they dont pay tax here as well.... geesus this country

    26th Oct 2020
    6:26pm
    Labor thinks it's more important to throw more cash at families earning more than $189,000 a year so both parents can dump their kids in childcare to work a 5-day week than to get people living in poverty into jobs or on a slightly higher welfare benefit. Given that the Libs think tax cuts for high income earners are the top priority, I don't think we have much hope of improvement for the less fortunate no matter which mob are in power.
    skinner
    26th Oct 2020
    8:25pm
    All of these arrogant pollies never have to worry about being on Centrelink! They ALL get paid far too much! If their salaries/perks were reduced then any increased Centrelink to the ordinairy person would not be unsustainable!
    Life experience
    26th Oct 2020
    10:53pm
    Anyone over 55 should get a higher rate. Very hard for older people to get a job. Younger people should be encouraged to work.


    Join YOURLifeChoices, it’s free

    • Receive our daily enewsletter
    • Enter competitions
    • Comment on articles