The Greens have unveiled an ambitious, but controversial, plan to increase Centrelink payments to $88 per day.
The Australian Greens Party has launched an audacious bid to improve the lives of some of the country’s most vulnerable.
The party announced that if it holds the balance of power after the upcoming federal election, it will push to raise all government income supports – including the Age Pension and Jobseeker – to a minimum of $88 per day, in line with the Henderson Poverty Line.
The payments would total around $32,000 per year and future indexation would be tied to the poverty line.
Around 1.5 million older Australians receive the full Age Pension and an estimated 25 per cent of those are living in poverty.
The list of support payments the Greens want boosted include the Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Youth Allowance, ABSTUDY and AUSTUDY, Crisis Payment and the Farm Household Allowance.
The Greens say thousands of Australians were lifted out of poverty by increased JobSeeker payments, but now rates have reverted and our most vulnerable have, once again, been left behind.
“In a wealthy country like ours, no-one should live in poverty,” Greens leader Adam Bandt told reporters.
“With the cost of living soaring and inflation a looming problem, raising the rate of income support is the urgent economic stimulus that will help lift wages from the bottom up.”
The independent Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) ran the numbers on the plan and estimates it would cost taxpayers around $89 billion to fund until 2024-25.
The PBO expressed concerns about how sustainable the plan would be in the long term.
But Mr Bandt says the scheme would be funded through a ‘billionaire’s tax’ and a corporate super-profits tax, as well as reversing the Morrison government’s planned stage 3 tax cuts for wealthy Australians.
“By making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax, we can lift people out of poverty while also lifting wages and boosting our economy,” he says.
“When you don’t wave through tax cuts for the wealthy and instead make billionaire corporations pay their fair share of tax, you can offer a real alternative.”
While the policy may be popular with large sections of the electorate, neither of the major parties seem keen to back the proposal. But Mr Bandt says that by refusing to engage on this issue, they risk driving away voters doing it tough.
“If Liberal and Labor want to argue pensioners and job seekers should be living in poverty, bring it on.”
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