The Greens will move a Private Member's Bill when parliament resumes to help some of Australia's most vulnerable people, currently being ignored by the Government, by lifting the single rate of Newstart, Abstudy and the single living away from home Youth Allowance by $50 a week and indexing their growth the same way as the Aged Pension.
The Parliamentary Budget Office, an initiative of the Greens' achieved in negotiations to form minority government, has costed lifting the rate at $7.4 billion over the forward estimates. Adding indexation, as yet uncosted, would bring the total to approximately $2 billion a year.
"Instead of allowing our society to become more ‘dog eat dog', it's time the Government stood up to big business and asked them to contribute this $2 billion a year we need to look after people who have fallen on tough times," Australian Greens Acting Leader, Adam Bandt MP, said.
"Unless the Government stands up to big business and secures the country's revenue base, inequality will continue to grow."
Australian Greens spokesperson for Families, Disabilities and Community Affairs, Senator Rachel Siewert, who spent a week on Newstart last year to draw attention to the issue, said "All the evidence, and my own small taste of the experience, shows that Newstart is too low, evidence the Government tragically continues to ignore.
"People can't live on such low support; it forces them into a poverty cycle which becomes yet another barrier to employment.
"Caring for people means we support them at their most vulnerable, rather than punishing them.
"If the Government continues to show its unwillingness to care for our most vulnerable Australians, the Greens will move this Bill to make the required amendments to increase Newstart."
Mr Bandt said "This move to support some of Australia's most vulnerable people would cost only a quarter of the revenue we would raise by putting in place a proper tax on super profitable mining giants.
"The government should make Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer pay their fair share and impose a new tax rate on people earning more than $1 million so that we can lift other Australians out of poverty.
"If we're serious about getting people into jobs and supporting women to stay in the workforce, we must stop trapping them in a cycle of poverty."
5 January 2013