National uComms poll finds 73% support for cash payments to unemployed people in budget
Community responds to reports the government will provide a one-off payment to workers
A new national poll released today shows 72.8% of people believe the government should extend a payment reportedly to be handed out to people with a job to unemployed people and pensioners as well – those who need it most.
Support is strong from people of all ages, with 51.4% strongly in support and an additional 21.4% of people agreeing that the payment should be extended to these unemployed people and pensioners. Only 10.9% strongly disagree.
The government cannot continue to obfuscate the cruelty of its approach to the people who are worst off.
Comments from the following people are included below:
Antipoverty Centre spokesperson Kristin O’Connell
GetUp Campaign Director Rafi Alam
Four unemployed people from Tasmania interviewed by the Antipoverty Centre and GetUp in response to media reporting of the government’s cash payment to workers.
The uComms poll, commissioned by GetUp, had a sample size of 1414 and asked respondents whether one-off payments to employed people the government has indicated will be included in tomorrow’s federal budget should be extended to unemployed workers and pensioners.
The unemployment rate has not been this low since before the global financial crisis in 2008 when it was also 4%, but the proportion of working age people who rely on an unemployment payment (JobSeeker and Youth Allowance Other) has nearly doubled – from 3.3% in mid-2008 compared to about 5.9% today.1
According to the latest data from the Department of Social services there are about 950,000 people on unemployment payments that are about half the poverty line.2 There are 2.5 million age pensioners and roughly 1.6 million people on other payments for parents, disability and carers.3
The Antipoverty Centre is calling on the government to scrap a one-off payment in favour of a permanent increase to income support payments that ensures they are above the poverty line, better supporting people with no paid work and those with low-paid jobs.
Quotes attributable to the Antipoverty Centre spokesperson Kristin O’Connell
“The government has indicated in the media over the past week that it is willing to support some people and not others. It’s despicable.
“We know the touted one-off payment is inadequate and won’t offer much help, but there’s no excuse for punishing people relying on poverty payments to survive. It’s obvious that what worked is what they did in 2020: lifting payments above the Henderson poverty line and they have to get their heads out of the sand and do so again.
“It’s unconscionably cruel for the government to exclude anyone on income support but especially people on the lowest payments from any relief, no matter how small – JobSeeker, the most common payment, is just half the Henderson poverty line of $88 a day.
“It’s clear that the community does not support the government’s miserly approach to unemployed people.
“This strong poll result shows that ordinary people know those of us on income support are suffering the most from skyrocketing prices for the most basic living costs.”
Media contact: 0413 261 362 / media at antipovertycentre.org
GetUp wants pressure on the PM calling for a cost of living boost to the unemployed.
GetUp’s Campaign Director Rafi Alam said:
“Ahead of the Coalition’s budget tomorrow, our polling confirms what we thought all along – voters aren't buying the government's pick-and-choose approach to cost of living relief measures.
“Everyone deserves support through these tough times, whether you're in or out of work, and we'll continue to campaign on that until election day and beyond."
Media contact: 0455 595 642
The Antipoverty Centre and GetUp have spoken to Tasmanian residents to get their views on the possibility of a payment that excludes unemployed people. Tasmania is one of the most economically depressed parts of the country, with high rates of people on income support, high unemployment, some of the lowest rental vacancy rates with disproportionately high rents.
Speaking to the Antipoverty Centre and GetUp, Alice from Launceston said:
“It's a one-off payment & it's not going to be helpful in the long run. But people like me can't even make it past the first week of the fortnight, I could do so much with it. That's so much money to me. I just think, how dare they do that?
“That's just going to create a further gap between people who are employed from people who can't find a job. You're just discriminating against us further, putting us in further danger.”
Adam, a stay-at-home dad from Hobart who is unemployed and has a serious disability that means he can’t work but does not qualify for the Disability Support Pension, said:
"Everyone's struggling. If they're giving it to people who are working, ok. But how about giving it to people who aren't working, who're unemployed, living below the poverty line? There's people on the lowest incomes and all the money's gone.”
Marina from Hobart, who is on the JobSeeker payment, said:
”I think the whole concept is ridiculous. A one-off payment is not going to help the cost of living for anyone, whether they're working or whether they're unemployed. I think it's stupid.”
Paul, also from Hobart and on the JobSeeker payment, said:
“I think it’s just a political stunt. If they do give a payment to help with the cost of living and that goes to people who've got a job, well, that sucks. I reckon that's pretty ordinary. The people most in need are the people without the jobs.
"Jobs are awfully hard to get at the moment, so I think it's very unfair for that to happen. It's really just to try and help win the next election, you need a payment which is going to be a lot longer lasting."
ABS, ‘Income support among people of working age’, Australian Social Trends 4102.0, March 2010, https://www.ausstats.abs.gov.au/ausstats/subscriber.nsf/LookupAttach/4102.0Publication16.03.106/$File/41020_IncomeSupport.pdf; ABS, 3201.0 - Population by Age and Sex, Australian States and Territories, Jun 2008, March 2009, https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/allprimarymainfeatures/2DB211BA9B6E1A25CA2576860017C2F8?opendocument; Department of Social Services, JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance monthly profile, data.gov.au, https://data.gov.au/data/dataset/jobseeker-payment-and-youth-allowance-recipients-monthly-profile; ABS, National, state and territory population September 2021, March 2022, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/population/national-state-and-territory-population/sep-2021#key-statistics.
DSS, JobSeeker Payment and Youth Allowance monthly profile, data.gov.au, https://data.gov.au/data/dataset/jobseeker-payment-and-youth-allowance-recipients-monthly-profile.
DSS, Payment Demographic Data, data.gov.au, December 2021, https://data.gov.au/dataset/ds-dga-cff2ae8a-55e4-47db-a66d-e177fe0ac6a0/details.