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Political interference shows we need an independent process for Newstart

Jul 24, 2019, 12:33 PM by Maiy Azize

Anglicare Australia has renewed its call for an independent body to set income support rates. The call follows today’s revelations that the Government interfered in a Parliamentary Inquiry’s recommendations on Newstart rates.

“The political process has been failing people out of work for years. This incident is just the latest reminder of that,” said Anglicare Australia’s Acting Executive Director Roland Manderson.

“Newstart has been frozen at dangerously low levels for 25 years. Government after Government has ignored the calls of business leaders, the community sector, economists, the general public, and people on Newstart themselves. Even this Government’s own MPs have been unable to make it listen.

“Now we’ve learned that a Government Minister stepped in to change the recommendations of Parliamentary Inquiry – recommendations that were supposed to be based on evidence. It’s clear that governments can’t be trusted when it comes to people in the greatest need,” Mr Manderson said.

Mr Manderson acknowledged Government and Opposition MPs who have spoken up for their constituents on Newstart, and the Australian Greens who have supported an independent process to set and raise income support rates.

“Our sector has been calling for an independent income support commission for years – and the public agrees. 61% of Australians polled by Anglicare Australia want these rates to be set independently of Government.

“If the Government won’t listen to its own MPs, experts, and inquiries – or respect the evidence – then it’s time to hand the power over to someone who will.”