Labor push to raise JobSeeker rate

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Labor has reignited calls for the federal government to raise the JobSeeker rate.

The push follows new forecasts that show the jobless rate peaking at 7.5 per cent in the March quarter – when the JobKeeper wage subsidy and coronavirus supplements are scheduled to end.

Opposition finance spokeswoman Katy Gallagher said it was not acceptable to expect people on the JobSeeker welfare payment to live on $40 a day again from April.

“There is a 1.5 million people relying on that payment at the moment,” she told ABC.

“It is not enough, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that.”

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Senator Gallagher said Labor had hoped the rate of JobSeeker would rise in Thursday’s mid-year economic and fiscal outlook (MYEFO).

She called on the government to use the unprecedented amounts of money being invested in the economy to make it better for everyone, including those on the lowest incomes.

But Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government had allocated $3bn to extend the JobSeeker supplement, at a lower rate, until March 31.

“We’ll continue to monitor all the circumstances as we get closer to the end of March and work out the next steps in relation to the different aspects of our support programs,” Senator Birmingham said.

“There’s enormous budgetary implications in decisions.”

Australian Council of Social Services CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said the government was threatening to withdraw the much-needed supports despite acknowledging the “long, hard road” ahead.

“MYEFO leaves millions in deep financial insecurity heading into 2021,” she warned.

The national unemployment rate dropped to 6.8 per cent in November.



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