I believe you have the right to be heard by your politicians. That's why I want your advice on this issue.
What should we do about JobSeeker?
One of the only good things to come out of last year was when the Government doubled the rate of JobSeeker (the payments that used to be called NewStart). In the middle of an enormous health and economic crisis, those payments gave more than a million Australians a chance to breathe.
The Government plans to stop paying the extra money at the end of March. When that happens, people on JobSeeker will go back to living on $40 a day. I’ve said before that I think that’s too low. The question is what we do about it.
Should we double the base rate?
- There are a lot of people out there who would like the Government to permanently increase the rate of JobSeeker by a large amount. For example, ACOSS has asked for a permanent increase of at least $370 a fortnight. But economists and Coalition politicians have said that paying too much to people on JobSeeker could stop them from applying for work or taking more shifts.
- Reading the tea leaves, it seems unlikely that the Government is going to raise the rate by a significant amount.
Should we fix the taper rates?
- When the JobSeeker rate drops in March, people will start losing more money on the income tests. That means that JobSeekers who work a few hours a week will lose 50 to 60 cents for every dollar they earn. Not many people are talking about that, but it could also discourage people from taking on more work. Fixing it might be a way to get more money into people’s pockets.
- It’s worth thinking about the cost. Doubling the base rate of JobSeeker helps everyone on the payment, but it’s hugely expensive. Lowering the income test only helps the people who are earning something, but it's also about two-thirds cheaper.
What do you think would be best? Should we raise the rate of JobSeeker, even if it means some people might work less? Or should we focus on letting people on JobSeeker earn more before they start losing their payments?
- 1 “Raise the rate for good – FAQ”, ACOSS, September 2020.
- 2 “Federal government believes jobseeker rate could be putting people off work”, The Guardian, June 2020; “JobSeeker 'encourages casuals not to work'”, The Canberra Times, April 2020.
- 3 “Important information about your income support payments”, Services Australia, November 2020.