Newstart allowance

The grassroots campaign to increase welfare payments for the unemployed received a boost on June 12 from the national body that represents councils across Australia.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) overwhelmingly voted in support of a motion calling on the federal government to increase the Newstart Allowance, the Centrelink payment for unemployed people.

Fremantle City Council agreed on May 23 to support a rise in the federal government’s Newstart Allowance paid to unemployed jobseekers, becoming the first local government in Western Australia to adopt this position.

Acting on a motion proposed by Councillor Sam Wainwright, council took this decision following the presentation of a petition of residents organised by Anti-Poverty Network Perth (APN). The petition called for Newstart to be raised to a level sufficient to allow recipients to live in dignity.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is the highest-paid leader in the entire Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), according to a recent report.

Analysis by market research group IG also showed Turnbull earns up to 10 times the average Australian wage — the second-highest disparity with the majority of ordinary workers among OECD countries.

Socialist Alliance councillor Sue Bolton reported that on February 14 Moreland City Council in Victoria passed her motion calling for an increase in the Newstart allowance. This follows similar decisions by 10 South Australian local councils prompted by campaigners from the Anti-Poverty Network.

The motion called for Newstart to be increased to the Henderson poverty line. Newstart is currently $177 below the poverty line.

About 80 people attended a fiery, standing-room only, public forum on unemployment, hosted by Anti-Poverty Network SA on June 18 in Adelaide's northern suburbs.

In a twist to the standard election fare, candidates were required to spend the first half of the event listening to the honest, insightful testimony and views of jobseekers, sole parents, aged and disability pensioners, and others with direct, lived experience of being out of work and being poor, before participating in a Q&A.

Anti-Poverty Network SA launched a new campaign this week: Target 80K (80,000) Jobs For SA .

The campaign is about shifting the discussion on unemployment away from the relentless victim-blaming, the attacks on job-seekers, and onto governments that know full well but refuse to acknowledge, let alone do anything about the fact there are not enough jobs to go around. In South Australia, we have 9,800 job vacancies and 89,600 job-seekers. We need another 80,000 jobs.

Anti-Poverty Network SA released this statement on June 1 to coincide with the launch.

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This is how Tony Abbott explained the new work-for-the-dole measures in the latest federal budget to the Queensland Chamber of Commerce: “That person can do up to four weeks of work experience with your business, with a private sector business, without losing unemployment benefits so it gives you a chance to have a kind of try-before-you-buy look at unemployed people.”

Protesters targeted the offices of federal minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin on January 11. They were angry about federal Labor’s cut to sole-parent incomes and refusal to raise the Newstart Allowance.

Sole parent Rose Ljubicic initiated the protest. She organised another protest on December 24 last year, sparked by receiving a government letter telling sole parents to cut up their pension cards on December 31.

Macklin told journalists on January 1 that she could live on the Newstart Allowance.

Triple J did a profile on youth unemployment in Wollongong that was posted on the ABC’s website on October 29.

Five young people were interviewed about the difficulties in finding work, and the reasons for the high youth unemployment rate.

These are the same problems faced by young people all over Australia: a reduction in the number of apprenticeships available, the effects of the financial crisis, the lack of experience young people have and how no-one is willing to give them a chance.

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