It’s that time of the year folks — Labor has released its Federal budget and reminded us how much people on Centrelink payments are dehumanised by our governments. Bravo!
While the new budget did deliver some big wins for the average Aussie — assistance with soaring electricity bills, cheaper medical prescriptions and a reinstatement of some child payments for single parents, for example — there’s one area it spectacularly failed at addressing: a JobSeeker increase.
It’s no secret that the JobSeeker payments people on Centrelink receive are insulting in how little they actually alleviate poverty. In that they don’t. At all. In fact, they actively perpetuate it by keeping people below the poverty line.
We asked for a $39/day increase to bring JobSeeker up to the Henderson Poverty Line. While people are starving. While people are taking their lives. We were asking for the bare minimum that people need. Painting this as unreasonable is morally bankrupt & you should be ashamed https://t.co/hTNB7Dzj2x
— jeremy poxon (@JeremyPoxon) May 9, 2023
According to the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, JobSeeker needs to be raised by at least $128 a week to ensure people can cover their basic needs like food and having shelter over their heads.
In the new budget, Labor raised JobSeeker by $40 a fortnight. In other words, only $20 a week, or $2.85 a day.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese insisted this was enough to “make a difference to people”, but we’re yet to see how. So, we thought we’d compile all the basic shit that $2.85 simply isn’t enough to get you. Let’s get into it, shall we?
1kg of basmati rice
This is probably one of the most used basics in my house, so I decided to look up how much it costs — the homebrand version at Woolies is a whopping $4. Yikes.
A 5-pack of Indomie Mi Goreng Instant Noodles
Indomie noodles are THE dirt-cheap food, this is what I lived off as a broke student and what I still live off when it’s a little too close to payday and I’ve run out of money. A classic five-pack costs $3.95 at both Coles and Woolies, so turns out you actually could not afford to buy a pack of these babies with the new daily JobSeeker increase. Wow.
$2.85 only goes so far I guess #auspol #jobseeker #youthallowance #budget
I went through every brand (including homebrand versions) of antihistamines, something I literally take almost every day so I’m not sneezing constantly, and the cheapest one I could find at either Coles or Woolies cost around $6.
A loaf of bread
The cheapest loaves of bread at both Coles and Woolies were around $2.50 to $3, but honestly I never find the cheap ones when I shop. Also, gluten free people can get fucked I guess!
A bag of spinach
I’m iron deficient and my doctor keeps telling me to eat more spinach, but the JobSeeker increase said no because that shit is $3 for 120 grams!
A box of Weet-Bix
A decent cereal to either eat for breakfast or out of a cup at 4am is a staple to my life — a pack of Weet-Bix costs $3.50 for the mini (!!!) box, and those nicer cereals like Uncle Toby’s various fruity ones costs around $6.50 (for only 100 grams!)
If there’s anything we learned in the pandemic, it’s that toilet paper is surprisingly expensive — the Coles branded eight-pack costs $4.60.
Labor’s jobseeker increase will only make the payments 41% below the poverty line, as opposed to 44%.
Powerful move …
via @GrogsGamut https://t.co/TWohVasKGW pic.twitter.com/M3WNUy9Vye
— Antoun Issa (@antissa) May 10, 2023
A cup of coffee
I haven’t found a cup of coffee for less than $3.50 since, like, 2018. At this point it’s a distant dream.
A significant portion of people on Centrelink have children, so let’s discuss nappies — the cheapest pack I could find was $5 at Woolworths and $5.35 at Coles.
The basic human right to shelter
Sorry, but $2.85 a day is not going to help ya with rent or buying a house — especially when decrepit studios are going for $500 a week in Sydney and landlords are putting up rent by the hundreds.
And no, there was barely any rent assistance in the budget despite the housing crisis we’re suffering in — $31 a fortnight, so $1.12 a day — which is nothing given the amount of rentals which are “affordable” right now, AKA costs less than $400/week to live in, is catastrophically low.
The budget might have been helpful in some ways, but we need more investment into actually breaking the cycle of poverty if we want to see anything change.