No cut to JobSeeker, raise the rate

September 25, 2020
Photo: Living Incomes for Everyone - Newcastle/Facebook

Newcastle union and anti-poverty activists supported national protests against the federal government’s cuts to the JobSeeker allowance on September 25 by organising a snap action outside the Newcastle Centrelink office on September 24.

The $300 a fortnight cut to JobSeeker amid a pandemic recession is cruel. The Australia Institute estimates that the cut will plunge 370,000 people into poverty, including 80,000 children.

According to the Anti-Poverty Network, 2.3 million people will have their incomes cut by $300 a fortnight — the size of the population of Brisbane or one in seven working-age people.

Pas Forgione, Raise The Rate community organiser at Australian Council of Social Service, said on September 24 that he has received many stories about how the COVID-19 supplement changed their life.

“For the briefest of periods, and one of the only times in Australian history, job-seekers were living above the poverty-line. Not living luxuriously, just not starving ... I have no doubt the cut would have been more substantial, if it was not for months and years of tireless work by countless individuals and organisations.”

The challenge now is to stop any further cuts, such as JobSeeker returning to $40 a day straight after Christmas, Forgione said. “Can we lift JobSeeker and other payments back above the poverty-line? The well-being of millions of people is at stake.”

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