The Labor government has voted down Greens amendments to its Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Supporting the Transition to Work) Bill 2023 that would have raised the rate of income support, abolished mutual obligations and extended the work bonus for everyone.
The government’s Bill seeks to extend the temporary work bonus that was introduced last year for aged pensioners and some veteran recipients – leaving behind all other income support recipients in a poverty trap.
It also extends the nil rate period for Jobseeker and other income support recipients, meaning income recipients are able to work longer without their payment being cancelled. The Greens know this is simply tinkering at the edges and avoiding the change needed to the system – raising the rate of income support and abolishing mutual obligations.
Senator Janet Rice said:
“While this bill takes small but important steps to assist income support recipients entering the workforce, we also know that these measures are just tinkering around the edges of a broken system.”
“If Labor can increase the amount pensioners can work to $300 a fortnight – why can’t they do the same for Jobseekers, people on the parenting payment and Disability Support Pensioners under 21?”
“Our safety net should encourage people to supplement their support payment with income from work. But right now Jobseekers and other income support recipients are only allowed to earn up to $150 a fortnight before their payment is reduced.”
“It is completely astounding that Labor has decided to grant the work bonus to pensioners, and not include all income support recipients.”
“Over 43% of Jobseeker recipients have a partial capacity to work, meaning they are sick and/or disabled. Disabled or sick people don’t always have the capacity to sustain long term employment and may only be able to work intermittently.”
“Labor is doing nothing for them. If you’re struggling to find employment, if you’re suffering from an illness, if you’re living with a disability, if you have caring responsibilities – forget it. Labor will not give you the full support you need to meet your basic needs.”
“Payments below the poverty line mean hunger, they mean illness, they mean hopelessness. None of those realities are conducive to finding meaningful, sustainable work.”
“If Labor really wanted to help people find meaningful work, they would raise the rate of all income support payments to above the poverty line and abolish mutual obligation requirements.”
“The evidence shows that having more money and more time allows people to turn their attention away from day-to-day survival and towards creating a financially and emotionally sustainable future.”
“Our amendments aren’t new and they aren’t complicated. Each of these measures were implemented in the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and they can be implemented again. The problem is Labor’s lack of political will to end poverty.”
“This is just one set of amendments – today, the Greens introduced three sets of amendments on three different bills trying to address the core problem of our social safety net, but Labor voted with the Liberals against them every time.”