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Response to opposition leader’s comments on unemployment payments
Anthony Albanese is treating treating the health and safety of unemployed people as an optional extra and consigning millions to poverty
Unemployed people received another slap in the face today when Anthony Albanese on Insiders said every federal budget should “consider” whether we are in a position to improve the JobSeeker rate.
Quotes attributable to Kristin O’Connell from the Antipoverty Centre:
For many of us, callous comments like these have a devastating affect on our mental health.
I would ask the opposition leader if he “considers” whether he is in a position to pay for basic necessities on a month-to-month basis, or whether he plans a budget to make sure he can.
There is no excuse for our government to force us to live in poverty ever. For any reason.
He and every other major party politician are treating our health, our ability to live, as an optional extra when it should be non-negotiable.
Unemployment payments at half the poverty line means eight out of 10 people regularly skipping meals. Why is the opposition leader willing to accept this?
With the cost of basic necessities skyrocketing and the extra costs of trying to keep ourselves, our families and the whole community safe as the pandemic rages, things are only getting worse for people trying to survive on income support.
By refusing to support higher welfare payments, he isn't only consigning healthy, working age adults to poverty – poverty that itself creates illness and disability – he is consigning hundreds of thousands of children to the hunger, exclusion and the stigma that comes with it.
People on income support are desperate. Desperate for action from any politician to commit to bring payments back to at least the Henderson poverty line so that we can afford to live.
The opposition leader says he wants to increase wages. He knows as well as we do that creating a truly safe safety net is a surefire way to do this, and to improve the conditions of the millions of essential workers on poverty wages.
We are calling on Anthony Albanese and the Labor party to give us hope and commit to delivering on Bob Hawke’s promise that no person in this country would live in poverty.
We appeal directly to the opposition leader to stop fetishising a budget surplus, stop repeating harmful debt and deficit rhetoric that fuels the false impression that we can't afford to make sure everyone has a safe place to live, enough to eat and the basics they need. Continuing on the current path is a recipe for a dangerous race to the bottom on welfare policy.
We are desperate for a glimmer of hope. The Labor party seems to stand for everyone but the most vulnerable. They treat us as though we’re invisible. When will someone stand up for us?