Newstart is forcing Australians to live in poverty

The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) has released a survey of Newstart recipients, which reveals that the overwhelming majority are forced to skip meals:

People who receive Newstart or other allowances have an income that is well below the poverty line. The single rate of Newstart is $282 per week, which is more than $100pw below the poverty line, and less than 40% of the minimum wage. Youth Allowance is even less…

84% of respondents receiving Newstart or Youth Allowance said that they skip meals to save money. The largest proportion of people who responded to this (132 of 416) said that they skipped 3-4 meals each week…

Worryingly, on average, 47% of people skipped more than five meals a week, and 12% said that they skipped more than eight meals per week.

For people on Newstart and other allowances, their income is so low that they must treat food as a discretionary item…

Many reported that they had to go without healthcare and other essentials because of the cost…

Housing costs generally comprise the largest component of people’s budgets…

More than half of respondents (59%) had less than $100pw left over after paying for housing costs, or $14 (or less) a day. 39% were left with $50 or less a week after housing.

Anglicare Australia surveyed 69,000 properties in April 2019 and found that Australia-wide, there were just two properties that would be affordable for a single person without children on Newstart (and receiving Rent Assistance)…

ACOSS is calling for a $75pw increase to allowances, in conjunction with a 30% increase in Commonwealth Rent Assistance to help people in private rentals.

Australia’s unemployment benefits are the lowest in the OECD:

And well below the poverty line:

Remarkably, Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week told Coalition MPs to prioritise raising the Aged Pension, despite the fact that the Aged Pension has received significant increases by comparison:

The number of seniors paying tax has halved:

And on average senior households are paying less income tax in real terms than senior households did 20 years ago:

If there’s one segment of society that deserves taxpayer support, it’s the unemployed, not retirees.

Leith van Onselen

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

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  1. “Newstart is forcing Australians to live in poverty” – clearly that is what God intended for those without a large mortgage – and even many with them. Old Testament style governance is what the poor deserve, to be placed in a treadmill to grind the grain for the rich man’s table. The natural order of things that has made Crown Casino the shining diamond in Australian cultural experience.

    But let’s face it, during the End of Times the poor will reap their reward for eternity (along with the cheesemakers) – just long as Scotty and his mates can roll in it in the here and now. Totally fair. And don’t worry about all that hippy stuff in the New Testament. Just sing ‘Jesus wants me for his accountant, to sign for him each day…’

  2. there is no place for neoliberal meritocratic BS propaganda than in a place where everyone thinks they became millionaires by smart and hardworking rather than being (temporarily) lucky

    these unemployed people are not millionaires only because they are lazy and dumb so they don’t deserve anything

    • That’s a lie though isn’t it. You become a millionaire by educating yourself, working hard, living on a budget, spending less than you make, saving and investing, for 30 years. And also by not borrowing money. Look at the studies and stop preaching your fake gospel telling people they’ll never get ahead.

      • Like most things the truth is much more complex. Children from wealthy stable families are much much more likely, quite predictably more likely, to achieve success. But does that mean if you are from a poor or dysfunctional family there is no hope and you should just give up? Well of course not, that is the central, and solid theme of Jordan Peterson’s thesis. However, there is no denying that those skills, the capacity to learn, and the emotional and financial intelligence required to navigate the modern world, are very tied to established family wealth, as is the social network that leads to work and opportunity. Wealthy and successful families do this instinctively, we know that giving our children a stable upbringing and a good education are key elements to future success. I’ve never met a young person that doesn’t want to work, but i’ve met plenty that lack the social, financial and emotional education to function at work.

      • Lol. Millionaire = success
        Lol. Most stable families in Australia are millionaires on the residential home alone.

      • As you may one day realise, wealth is not money it’s time. If your money doesn’t buy you time it’s not wealth.

      • Jumping jack flash

        “educating yourself, working hard, living on a budget, spending less than you make, saving and investing, for 30 years. And also by not borrowing money.”


        None of this is true.

        Maybe the part about borrowing money, but *someone* has to borrow money at some point dont they? How else can anyone hope to achieve instantaneous riches when they sell a box of wood and/or brick?

        From the ones with a million in the bank? Not many of those around the place. If everyone had to buy houses without using debt and only the savings in their bank accounts then houses would be very cheap indeed!

        No. The way to being a millionaire is borrow the biggest and baddest pile of debt you can possibly afford (for at least a while) and hand it all over to someone else. Then wait patiently for someone else to do the same for you.

        Its karma, right? The new economy runs on karma.

  3. Get rid of the ciggies drugs gambling tatts iPhones junk food etc.

    We should have ebt cards here so that my money is not spent on the above

    New start being raised will simply encourage more dependence on the big govt. That’s the problems here. If we had no welfare do you think people would find work instead of getting up at 10am and watching dr phil?

    • Some might find work, the majority will be forced into desperate situations where they’ll do anything to survive, like, maybe, hitting spivs in the head a few times and then stealing whatever the spiv has. Hope you’re up to date on your self defence classes, you’ll need them in your welfare free utopia…..

    • Have you been to a country with no ‘newstart’ equivalent. Have you hung around those ‘poor’ people? At night?
      Your life is worth about 5 bucks to them.

    • drsmithyMEMBER

      Given how much more generous and loosely enforced welfare was in the past, one has to wonder – based on your assumptions – why the country didn’t suffer economic collapse from lack of workers decades ago.

  4. New start is not meant to be a way to live. Its emergency funding to hurry up and get back to work. No centrelink in hong kong or singapore…no lying in bed til midday up all nite gaming. Hello
    ..most of the world doesnt have centrelink. Be grateful that you get something at all

    • There isn’t full employment and if you hadn’t realised it, business lobby groups like it like that as it keeps a lid on wages. So if one gets a job, another loses one!

      • There’s an unlimited amount of work in the World. Some employed, some self-employed. Use your noggin.

    • 100%. No-one is forced to live on CentreLink. The best place to go if you’re broke is to work.

      • Are you offering to employ people or just blowing it our of your ar$e as per most of your comments?

      • They could even get a job posting neoliberal bollocks on blogs. Only though if they get turned down for the better job of giving wristies to frustrated sub-continental migrants behind a vocational training college in Parramatta.

  5. It is so ironic that food was given out for free in Rome 2100 years ago and now the fake left says free food or free UBI (which would allow the plebs to buy food from the market) is a neocon thing – even though most neocons rant against UBI all the time.

    The blue graph demolishes the fake left’s latest argument against UBI – “what about rent assistance that varies with geography”. The graph shows that Luxembourg and many other nations have a uniform unemployment payment and no rent assistance.

    Unfortunately, better welfare for the downtrodden is not a vote winner. Only universal welfare is a vote winner – every Aussie is entitled to Medicare and the Medicare budget grows every year. There is even a tax on the rich to help fund it! The ban on leaded petrol benefits everyone from homeless dudes to rich men who jog – catalytic converters are a tax on everyone who has a car and they benefit homeless men!

    Simon Wright, the founder of Whirlpool, says UBI would be a government benefit like all the other universal benefits:

    an unemployed poor person with no direct exposure to the tax system is already getting a lot of non-cash value “for free” from the Government. They get a “free” army to protect from foreign invasion. A “free” police force to keep civil peace. A “free” vote for their representatives. And many abstract things which are expensive to acheive but “free”—like the luxury of not being surrounded by people dying of smallpox or plague.

    What UBI does is recognise that cash is just another way the Government can transfer value to its citizens.

  6. You can thank all the ignorant tossers that voted for the LNP and ALP for this.
    Isn’t Australia great?

  7. Jumping jack flash

    Barnaby is so close yet so far. The hypocrisy is looming. The cake consumption moment approaches but everyone’s too busy streaming tv to notice or care.

    Barnaby’s right that we should encourage the honest unemployed because they’re down on their luck and haven’t given up hope yet that they can find a job. They just have to say they can work for free. That’s the advice i gave an aspiring young employee looking for work in the retail space recently. Employers dont want to pay anyone for their work, there’s too much debt to obtain and/or repay. Employers are people too. They have immense mountains of debt to carry around. There’s simply no money left to actually pay any of their employees.

    Any career bludger isnt going to waste time and effort trying to struggle on newstart. No way. The DSP is where true bludgere reside. Pays 3 times as much with perks. Scomo would rather throw money at this than newstart, and its no wonder. DSP recipients aren’t counted as unemployed.

    This is the reality of the new economy of debt and services and manipulated statistics to prove the correct agenda.

    Just dont expect to be paid unless you’re a bank.