As an independent, it is my job to give voice to the issues ignored by the major parties.
The evidence from community groups, recipients and independent economic analysis overwhelmingly suggests that the rate of Newstart, and related payments, is grossly inadequate. In August 2017, the University of New South Wales Social Policy Research Centre found that the single rate of Newstart and Rent Assistance fell $96 short of the absolute minimum required to cover the basic cost of living.
A recent report by Deloitte Access Economics looked at the cost of raising Newstart, and a range of other allowance payments, by $75 a week. It estimated the cost to be $3.3 billion a year, but that the “prosperity dividend” to the Australian economy would be $4 billion dollars a year as a result of increased spending. It would also create 12,000 extra jobs and lift wages.
The current system of setting payment rates has fallen behind community expectations. Payments should maintain purchasing power in line with wage and cost of living increases. If we are to be a country of the “fair go”, an independent review process for assessing the adequacy of welfare payments is essential.
That is why I introduced a bill to establish an independent Social Security Commission to provide Parliament with independent assessment on the adequacy and levels of social security payments.