Trotting a Coalition figure onto Q&A to defend the current Newstart payment rate was always going to be a dicey endeavour, but last night’s showing from MP Jason Falinski felt particularly pointless. When faced with the brutal reality of living on Newstart payments after decades in the workforce, the guy simply could not spin facts, figures, or the government’s prevailing ideology into anything resembling compassion or care.
The long and the short of it: Ricci Bartels, who’d been sidelined from the workforce in her 60s, asked the Member for Mackellar what Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s credo of “give a go to get a go” even means in relation to the stagnant Newstart welfare payment.
His first response was to deflect. “I don’t know enough about your circumstances to properly comment on it, nor would I presume to know your life,” Falinski said.
He pointed to our “low levels of income inequality,” which drew a stunned “what?” from the audience.
He said he was happy to speak to Bartels after the show about her situation, but was reminded by moderator Tony Jones that, well, he may as well talk about the issue then and there.
He said “this government and this country has always been about ensuring no matter where you come from, what the circumstances of your birth are, that you get a chance to live your life to its full potential,” a statement which is not exactly borne out by Australia’s flagging support system for the impoverished.
He wrapped up by saying he disagrees with former Prime Minister John Howard, who famously did call for Newstart to be increased.
The inanity of “give a go to get a go” was never really addressed, but maybe that’s the point.
Advocates state the Newstart payment is barely liveable, and the powers that be have kept it that way. If you’d like to relive the experience of speaking that view to a particularly self-assured wall, check out the clip below.
I went on Newstart in my 60s. How can older Australians on Newstart “have a go to get a go?” #QandA pic.twitter.com/Dw3V3BSeJV
— QandA (@QandA) August 5, 2019