Why do we have welfare policies that create unnecessary poverty?
Despite a multitude of reports, submissions, public pleas and other advocacy on the problems of Newstart (NSA) recipients, the government has been adamant – until now – that change is unnecessary. This is in spite of unusually wide agreement that most of over 600,000 people on Newstart and related payments cannot survive financially because the payments are too low to cover any levels of decent living
When confronted with that information, responses from the two biggest political parties – and a very large slab of the commentariat – argue that the best (or only) answer is a job. It’s implied if you can’t manage on Newstart, it must be smokes, pokies, laziness or incompetence that is to blame. Beneath these arguments are the presumptions that people on the Newstart allowance who may have out-of-date work skills, caring responsibilities, or ill health don’t really want to work or contribute to the community around them – and that we have a duty to make them. The inadequacy of the allowance is thus punishment for their individual moral failings – and a necessary incentive for them to get out and get a job.