Anglicare Australia has condemned the Government’s decision to cut the JobSeeker payment over Christmas.
“Out of work Australians have woken up this morning to find that parliament has voted to cut their payments yet again,” said Executive Director Kasy Chambers.
“The old rate of JobSeeker was frozen for almost three decades. It became a poverty trap, locking people out of work and forcing them to turn to agencies like ours just to get by.
“Just this week, we released research showing that people out of work were skipping meals because the their payments were so low. Many were left with as little as $7 a day after paying their rent. Others were forced to couch-surf.
“When the Government lifted JobSeeker it righted that wrong. People out of work were finally given a path out of poverty. These cuts will take that hope away – and push people back into poverty and hardship.”
Ms Chambers said the Government was contradicting itself on JobSeeker.
“Just this week, the Government admitted that there aren’t enough jobs for those need them. It’s also trying to convince workers to take pay cuts because of weakness in the economy. But when it comes to JobSeeker, it insists that the economy is strong enough for cuts.
“The Government is disregarding the evidence it doesn’t want to hear. It’s ignoring near-universal calls for an increase, and it passed these latest cuts with no debate in parliament. That’s not good enough.
“After years of ignoring calls from experts, economists, and the community sector, the Government is now failing to listen to its own citizens. Many families will be forced to move over Christmas or skip meals as they get ready for the next round of cuts.
“This shows that it’s time to take these decisions out of the hands of politicians and create an independent body to set payment rates.
“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.”