- The Guardian
- Issue #2050
Prime Minister Albanese signing submission to the Fair Work Commission, recommending Australia’s lowest-paid workers not go backwards. Photo: @AlboMP twitter account
Politicians academics, business leaders, community advocates and other prominent Australians have joined in a rare display of unity to urge the Prime Minister to implement the first priority recommendation of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee and deliver a substantial increase in JobSeeker and related payments in the May Budget.
Labor MPs Alicia Payne, and Michelle Ananda-Rajah, Liberal MP Bridget Archer, the Greens, and a wide range of independents and crossbench politicians including Kate Chaney, Zoe Daniel, Helen Haines, Jacqui Lambie, David Pocock, Monique Ryan, Sophie Scamps, Lidia Thorpe, and Andrew Wilkie, have all signed an Open Letter urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to lift JobSeeker and related payments to help address “structural injustice” and “increased deprivation.”
Sitting members of the Federal Parliament are joined by former senior politicians and bureaucrats, First Nations leaders, leading economists, and prominent Australians.
The Open Letter to the Prime Minister comes after the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, which was established as part of a historic agreement between the government and Senator Pocock, recommended the government lift JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, and related payments to 90 per cent of the pension rate, or $68.40 per day, as “a first priority”
The Open Letter, co-ordinated by the Australian Council of Social Service, says: “We all want the security of knowing that we’ll be supported during tough times.
“But right now, the rate of JobSeeker is so low that people are being forced to choose between paying their rent or buying enough food and medicine.”
Currently for a single person JobSeeker is $49.50 per day and Youth Allowance is $40.20 per day.
ACOSS (Australian Council of Social Service) research last year found that six in ten people on income support were eating less or reporting difficulty getting medicine or care because their incomes are totally inadequate. This figure increased to seven in ten in March 2023.
Former politicians and bureaucrats to have signed include Brian Howe AO, Kathryn Greiner AO, Cathy McGowan AO, Robert Tickner AO, Doug Cameron, Jenny Macklin, John Hewson AM, Fred Chaney AO, Verity Firth AM, Renée Leon PSM, and Marie Coleman AO.
Economists, philanthropists and business and union leaders include Ken Henry AC, Jeff Borland, Danielle Wood, Chris Richardson, David Thodey AO, Emma Dawson, Nicki Hutley, Angela Jackson, Sally McManus, Michele O’Neill, Simon Holmes a Court, Richard Dennis, Melinda Cilento, Paul Zahra, Jill Reichstein AM, and Diane Smith-Gander AO.
First Nations leaders including Professor Megan Davis, Pat Turner, Antoinette Braybrook, Dr Hannah McGlade, Mick Gooda, June Oscar AO, and Thomas Mayor have signed, along with prominent Australians including Patrick McGorry AO, Fiona Stanley AO, Tim Costello AO, Tony Nicholson, Georgie Dent, and Craig Foster.
Academics including Professor Kay Cook, Professor Nareen Young, Professor Miranda Stewart, Professor Peter Whiteford, Professor Eileen Baldry AO, Assoc Professor Ben Phillips, Eva Cox AO, and Professor Julian Disney AO have also signed.
The letter concludes by saying: “We call on the Federal Government to substantially increase JobSeeker, Youth Allowance, and related income support payments in the 2023 budget so as to not leave people in need behind.”
So far at least 335 people have signed the letter.