Majority of Australians against lowering JobSeeker rate post COVID-19

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on May 27, 2020
Majority of Australians against lowering JobSeeker rate post COVID-19

Image source: David Jackmanson, Flickr

Just over a third of Australians think the JobSeeker payment should be lowered once the economy starts to improve following coronavirus shutdowns, new polling shows.

The JobSeeker payment, which replaced the $550 per fortnight JobSeeker allowance, was doubled to $1,100 per fortnight to help the hundreds of thousands of Australians out of work due to the virus. 

The allowance is now being paid to well over one million Australians, and is only set to run until September (possibly ending sooner), but polling from Vox Pop Labs in collaboration with the ABC shows just 34% of Australians think it should be reduced. 

Of the 2,000 Australians surveyed, almost 60% (58%) of people said the JobSeeker rate was about right, while 19% said it should be lower. 

Only 9% said they didn't know.

Interestingly, people aged 18-34 were the more likely demographic to say the rate should be substantially reduced, while 60% of people said the government should provide a guaranteed minimum income for all regardless of their employment status. 

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            This data is supported by a previous survey in May, when the national Essential Poll found 57% of Australians - another majority - supported the JobSeeker payment not being cut, with 15% undecided, leaving a minority wanting a reduction. 

            The government has made it quite clear that both the JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments are temporary.

            Speaking to the National Press Club on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the schemes cannot be extended. 

            “Our response has followed a clear plan to save lives and save livelihoods, with strong and coordinated leadership across all governments, brought together through the National Cabinet,” he said. 

            “At a now anticipated cost of more than $150 billion in just six months, all borrowed against future tax revenue, these supports can of course only be temporary."

            In a previous press conference, Mr Morrison also said that a doubled unemployment rate could be a "disincentive" to look for work.

            "That's why these arrangements with the COVID supplement are temporary arrangements," he said on May 14.

            The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) meanwhile has urged the Government to extend the payment until a time when everyone can be kept out of poverty. 

            “As well as taking immediate action for temporary migrants, the Government must commit to extending the JobKeeper and the new JobSeeker payments beyond September," Acting CEO Jacqueline Phillips said.

            "Instead of the original plan to cut income support by half in September, taking us back to the old unlivable Newstart rate, the Government should permanently put in place a social security system that keeps everyone out of poverty."

            The old $550-per fortnight rate of Newstart is $40 per day. 

            “Through the new JobSeeker payment and the JobKeeper wage subsidy, the Government has saved jobs and kept many people out of poverty. The sudden removal of JobKeeper Payment across the board, or cutting the new JobSeeker Payment back to the old Newstart level, would lead to a devastating increase in unemployment and financial hardship," Ms Phillips said. 

            ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie has previously said the old $40 per day amount is "brutal". 

            “We can never go back to the brutality of trying to survive on $40 a day. We need a secure safety net that protects us all from poverty," she said. 

            “The ongoing JobSeeker payment must ensure everyone can keep a roof overhead, food on the table, and the lights on.

            “Cutting the incomes of people who need it the most would only stall any recovery."

            The Prime Minister yesterday announced his Government's JobMaker plan, which is essentially aimed at streamlining industrial relations and creating more jobs to boost the economy in the coming months and years. 

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            William Jolly joined as a Financial Journalist in 2018, after spending two years at financial research firm Canstar. In William's articles, you're likely to find complex financial topics and products broken down into everyday language. He is deeply passionate about improving the financial literacy of Australians and providing them with resources on how to save money in their everyday lives.


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