Greens Leader Adam Bandt and spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert have responded to today's announcement that the government has agreed to Labor’s proposal to cut JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments, even as unemployment soars and the Covid outbreak continues in Victoria and NSW.
This is being billed as an extension, but the reality for millions of Australians, many of whom are still under lockdown, is that this is a cut in vital income support.
“Disappointingly, the Liberals have listened to Labor’s call to cut JobKeeper support for low-income earners,” Bandt said.
“These cuts will see push part-time and casual workers closer to poverty. Many casual workers are young, insecure, low-paid and underemployed workers desperately seeking more work & higher wages.
“With JobKeeper, many workers were getting something close to a living wage but the Liberals and Labor are readying to throw these vulnerable workers off a financial cliff.
“It’s deeply disappointing to hear Anthony Albanese describe a living wage for the lowest income earners as ‘waste’. It is the sell-out of the century.
“The ACTU, the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the United Workers Union have all rejected cuts to JobKeeper and the do Greens too. The extended scheme is still $44 billion under budget and there is no excuse for this targeted attack. We should be expanding the payment to all workers who need it, not cutting it.
“The Greens will fight every attempt by the Liberals and Labor to cut support for low income and unemployed workers.”
Senator Rachel Siewert said:
“A temporary arrangement on JobSeeker is a mistake. We are deeply concerned that this payment will take people below the poverty line and the impact this will have on their lives. We have to give the community and businesses confidence for the long haul.”
“The Government recognises the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 by taking Jobkeeper through to March, why haven't they done the same for Jobseeker?
“We are in a recession. Not only is it cruel to keep people living with uncertainty and in poverty, we need people spending to stimulate our economy.
“Claims that the Jobseeker rate is discouraging people from working is a regression to myths and tropes used to demonise people who are accessing income support.
“It should not be Government policy for those without work to live in poverty. The higher level of Jobseeker has enabled many people to get out of poverty or stay above the poverty line, which is a key barrier to finding and maintaining employment.
“The employment services system was already not fit for purpose before the COVID-19 pandemic and somehow the Prime Minister expects the system to manage with the huge increase in caseload.
“The jobs are simply not there and it is absolutely senseless to deny people adequate support in the midst of a recession,” Siewert said.