Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Labor will review Australia's punishing levels of welfare

Labor has promised that if it wins gov it will conduct a full review into the ridiculous levels of the Newstart (dole) payment, and associated payments that automatically default to the Newstart payment levels. After reading the article it's unclear if they'll address the issues of pensioner poverty as we have; unable to get into subsidised Housing for years to come and paying nearly two thirds of our income in rent.

I do know however what it was like on the Sickness Allowance a few years back when I had kidney failure. Even with full rent assistance it was only $300 a week (same as Newstart back then). Not even enough to pay the rent. I ended up returning to work probably at least a month too early (I still had the central line hanging out of my chest that they'd used for dialysis FFS) as I was forced to pay the bloody rent.

A while back also, after David lost his job due to a discrimination incident, we ended up with my partnered Disability Support Pension being required 100% of to pay the rent, and David's Newstart payment for everything else. It was absolutely impossible. If not for my credit card we've have ended up homeless. In fact I maxed it out during those times, initially paying rent on the credit card every second week for a while, ultimately forcing me into bankruptcy with no way to pay the money back. David became my carer after that as that's what he was doing anyway, and he got nearly double with the Carer Payment and Carers Allowance. Not a lot but just enough to survive.

Our neighbour has been out of work for nearly 6 months now. Newstart isn't even enough to pay the rent. I think she's been lucky as she's had money put away, and after 6 months she can draw on her Super for a financial hardship payment of up to $10,000. But why should she have to do that just to survive? Super is supposed to be for retirement, not to make up the shortfall in the welfare system.

Even David and I have had to draw on our Super. The rent is so high it leaves us with fuck all. We can survive but that's all it is; surviving. Buying clothes, a major appliance, even paying for the winter electricity bill, all of it comes out of our Super financial hardship payments. And this gov has done nothing about housing affordability except to praise the negative gearing tax system that's fueling the fire.

Of course being on welfare has been quite an adjustment for David and I. Both worked full time all our lives until a few years ago. Me, going from $55,000 a year to about $17,000 a year was challenging to say the least. Added to that my capacity for managing money went through the floor after the kidney failure and near death; I got brain damage from lack of oxygen. Most things have come back but the money thing never did. Add severe depression to that......

OPPOSITION leader Bill Shorten has promised a “root-and-branch” review of Australia’s welfare payments system under a Labor government, saying he wouldn’t be able to live on $40 a day.

 The maximum fortnightly Newstart payment for singles with no children is $545.80, while the maximum fortnightly Youth Allowance payment for singles over the age of 18 who need to live away from home is $445.80.

 That works out to $38.99 or $31.84 a day, compared with the $64.83 a day — or $907.60 a fortnight — for the maximum Age Pension or Disability Support Pension payment. The average full-time salary is $81,531, which works out to $223.37 a day.

 “I do think there’s a real problem for the government payments for the people at the very bottom of our society,” Mr Shorten told a news conference on Wednesday.

 “That is why Labor has proposed having a root-and-branch review of our government’s payment system on Newstart and like-minded allowances and payments. Who on earth amongst the government or anyone in the parliament could live on the Newstart allowance?”