Centrelink

How much bigger has Australia’s economy become since 1994? The answer, per head of population, seems to be: close to 50%. That’s not in current dollars, but adjusted for inflation. So can “Australia” (read: the big end of town) afford to raise the rate of Newstart payments — currently at a base rate of $273 a week for a single person — for the unemployed?

Retired unionists and community members gathered in Sydney’s west on September 19 to demand the federal Coalition government stop the creeping privatisation of Centrelink and reverse cuts and job losses in the national social security agency.

Currently more than 800,000 people are without paid work and are struggling to meet basic needs such as housing and food. There are countless stories of those living on welfare having to choose between paying a bill or eating a meal. Anyone who has been unemployed knows it costs money to seek employment, from printing your resumes to the cost of travel to interviews, appropriate clothing or a haircut. It is nearly impossible to look for paid work if you are homeless and hungry.

The Perth branch of the Australian Unemployed Workers Union (AUWU) launched the “Dump your demerit points” campaign on July 20 at the Perth Trades Hall.

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