Treasurer Jim Chalmers has dropped Labor’s first fully-fledged budget after a ‘lil one last October and guess what? Renters and folks who receive Centrelink payments were shafted. Who’d have thunk it!
The TL;DR is that Aussies on JobSeeker will cop an extra $40 a fortnight, so single folks with no children will now receive more than $730 a fortnight.
Centrelink payments such as Youth Allowance and Austudy will also increase by $40 a fortnight.
It’s pretty pathetic when you consider that $40 a fortnight increase equates to an extra $2.85 a day. Folks around the country are having to choose between paying their bills and feeding their children — how on Earth will an extra $2.85 a day help them survive?
It’s somehow more insulting than no increase whatsoever.
— jeremy poxon (@JeremyPoxon) May 9, 2023
It’s also worth noting the pitiful increase is nowhere near the proposal put forward by unions, businesses and social service experts to lift the JobSeeker rate to 90 per cent of the aged pension.
Folks over 55 will benefit a tad more under the changes. Under the current program, recipients over 60 have been eligible for larger payments if they’ve been receiving JobSeeker payments for nine months or longer.
But this age threshold has been lowered, so from September, people aged 55 to 59 will also be able to receive the higher payment.
Don’t get it twisted, though — the tangible benefits folks of all ages will receive are jack shit.
The single-parent payment has also been expanded. Recipients — 90 per cent of whom are women — will continue to receive financial support until their youngest dependent child turns 14, a massive jump from the current cutoff of eight years. This is basically reversing a cut made by the Julia Gillard and John Howard governments more than a decade ago.
Renters didn’t really have a lot of joy in the budget. Come September, the maximum rate of the Commonwealth Rent Assistance will increase by 15 per cent AKA diddly-squat.
“This will provide up to $31 extra a fortnight for people renting in the private market and community housing — the largest increase in more than 30 years,” Chalmers said.
So miserly $20 week increase to #Jobseeker has been confirmed, as well as a pathetic $15 per week rent assistance
— @firstname.lastname@example.org (@peacenicsta) May 9, 2023
I mean … cool. But some landlord in Sydney is literally charging a renter $500 a week to live in a Glebe studio with “tape holding the roof together” and a “Keen’s curry box holding the sink up”. Do we want to introduce some policies which actually protect renters from the sheer fuckery that is landlordism and guarantee safe, liveable housing?
Also, not to put my Negative Nelly hat on, but won’t some landlords hike prices up if they know their tenants could be copping a tad more rent assistance? I’m just putting it out there.
The Labor government can yap until the cows come home about the $4.2 billion budget surplus but at the end of the day, people can’t pay their bills or eat a surplus. Millions of Australians who rely on financial assistance will continue to live in poverty, and the government couldn’t give a rat’s ass.