Green Left fighting fund: Decent unemployment benefits are not fiscally irresponsible!

Issue 

When voters celebrated the end of the John Howard years, many hoped the Rudd Labor government would usher in a new day of social inclusion, justice and fairness.

The 2010/11 budget, delivered by treasurer Wayne Swan on May 11, dashes these hopes and shows the need to build a pro-people alternative to both Howard's Liberals and Rudd's Labor.

Before the budget release, the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) urged the government to increase payments to the more than 600,000 Australians currently unemployed.

“The Newstart allowance is less than half the minimum wage”, ACOSS chief executive officer, Clare Martin, told the May 11 Government News. “We are calling on Government to lift the single base unemployment payments by $45 per week.”

Unfortunately Swan's budget ignored this suggestion.

“The Henry review [of taxation] notes that over the last three years annual rents have risen at an annual rate of 10%, yet rent assistance has increased by only 2.7%”, said Martin. “We have asked for a 30% increase in rent assistance for low-income households, which is about $15 per week.”

Unfortunately Swan's budget ignored this suggestion too.

Labor, just like the Coalition, puts “fiscal responsibility” before any sense of social justice. We at Green Left Weekly, however, agree more with the following comments from Frank Quinlan from Catholic Social Services Australia.

“If a 'fiscally responsible Budget' can increase spending on Australia's representatives in elite sports by $237 million, it is hard to imagine that there is not room for our unemployed to eat a little better, or for social services to shorten their waiting lists”, he wrote in the May 20 Homepage Daily.

GLW promises to continue the struggle for a world where decent unemployment benefits are not considered fiscally irresponsible. Please help us campaign for an alternative to Labor and the Liberals by making a donation to our 2010 fighting fund.

Donate online today. Or direct deposits can be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992. Otherwise, you can send a cheque or money order to PO Box 515, Broadway NSW 2007 or phone in a donation through on the toll-free line at 1800 634 206 (within Australia).

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