Greens MPs have spoken at a Parliament House rally in Canberra today, taking a stand against cuts to parenting payments that have forced single parents to move to the inadequate Newstart Allowance and lose between $60 and $100 per week.
Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, spokesperson for Families and Community Services and Deputy Leader Adam Bandt said today that the Government was failing in its primary responsibility of caring for vulnerable people.
“The time has come to ensure that the most vulnerable members of our community are not being left behind by our economy,” Senator Siewert said today.
“I will today give notice in the Senate to introduce a Private Members Bill to increase Newstart by $50 per week, to help those struggling on this inadequate payment.
“Now that the Government has moved away from the flawed commitment to deliver a surplus this year, they need to also reverse the cuts to parenting payment and stop punishing single parents.
“Parents and their children face serious consequences as a result of the low rate of Newstart Allowance and the loss of other assistance, such as the Pensioner Education Supplement. The Government should not be condemning people to further poverty.
“The Greens are working hard while the Government has been doing its best to ignore this issue and the Coalition is nowhere to be seen. We will maintain pressure on the Government to reverse these cuts,” said Senator Siewert.
Greens Deputy Leader Adam Bandt spent the last week living on the equivalent of Newstart Allowance and says a $50 increase to the payment is essential.
“My week living on the equivalent of Newstart made it clear that it is impossible to live on such a low amount of money. I was unable to live within the budget even for one week and I don't know how people are meant to do it for longer,” said Mr Bandt.
“There is no way that Newstart is enough for someone raising a family, which is such an important part of life.
“I could get by only by skipping meals, going into debt, using the services of welfare agencies and not paying any bills.
“The first job of our Government should be to care for people and the environment - with Newstart so low, our Government is failing.
“I am confident that this campaign will continue to grow in strength and that the Greens will continue to provide a voice for the many thousands of people who are struggling.
“The low rate of Newstart makes life too hard for single parents, families and job seekers,” Mr Bandt concluded.
Adam Bandt & Senator Siewert were joined by Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne and fellow Senators Peter Whish-Wilson, Sarah Hanson-Young, Larissa Waters, Lee Rhiannon and Richard Di Natale.