Libby Coker MP, Federal Member for Corangamite today said she would be adding her voice to calls for the Coalition Government to raise the Newstart allowance by at least $75 per week when she is in Canberra next week.

Ms Coker said increased costs of living were making it impossible to live a safe and dignified life on the Newstart allowance of just over $277 a week. Ms Coker pointed out that the payments were designed to support people as they work towards getting a job, but said that current payments do not even meet a recipient’s costs of living, let alone the additional expenses associated with study and their job search.

“People living in our electorate and elsewhere in Australia are finding it impossible to meet the daily costs of living on just $277 each week. Even with the addition of subsidies and other allowances the base amount is insufficient and it is unfair to expect Australians, who have found themselves in tough circumstances, to live in substandard conditions.

“People need to be able to afford to house and feed themselves and their families; we cannot continue to force people to live in circumstances where they are unable to meet the basic costs of living.

“It is counter intuitive for the Morrison Government to continue refuse to increase Newstart, this low payment makes it harder for people to get a job. If job seekers cannot afford the basic costs of living how can they afford to access education and training, or even find the resources to pay for transport to an interview? How can they compete in our tight labour market?”

Ms Coker said that the focus should be on boosting employment participation rather than confining people to Newstart when they could be engaged as productive employees.

“Australians are a hard-working lot when they are given a go. It is time that we gave people on Newstart more opportunity to return to the workforce – it’s nearly impossible for them to do that at the moment, they are struggling just to get by, there’s nothing left in their pockets to help them start afresh and build a new life for themselves.”