Newstart should also be increased by $95 a week
The Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) is urgently calling on the Federal Government to scrap plans to introduce legislation that will be harmful to thousands of Territorians, when parliament resumes today.
The legislation will place many NT residents who receive government payments onto a Cashless Debit Card (CDC) which quarantines at least 50 per cent of their income and is championed by Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston.
“This legislation is bad news for the Territory and bad news for anyone who is placed on the Cashless Debit Card in the Northern Territory,” said Deborah Di Natale, NTCOSS CEO.
“There has been mixed messaging about the percentage of income quarantined, when the implementation will start and exactly how it will work.
“From the perspective of people on the ground here in the NT, this is just another poorly thought through plan from Canberra that denies self-determination and agency. Most importantly there is no consistent evidence to show that it works,” she said.
The call comes in the same week that the Australian Council of Social Service renewed calls to increase the rate of Newstart by at least $95 per week.
“If the Federal Government is serious about tackling social issues among welfare recipients it needs to raise the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance by $95 per week,” said Ms Di Natale.
“Living on $40 per day is just not sustainable and equates to just 6.85 per cent of a politician’s base salary.
“Raising the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance is the single most significant action the Federal Government can take to improve health outcomes, alleviate poverty and increase social mobility for the nearly one million Australians receiving the payments.
“The Government has defended its surplus for too long. As it is re-calibrating to be more responsive to the community, this should be one of its next responses,” she said.
Cashless Debit Card (CDC)
• There are currently 22,000 people on income management in the Northern Territory who will be transitioned to the new CDC.
• The proposed CDC will quarantine a minimum of 50 per cent of a recipient’s payment, however the relevant Minister could alter this amount to 100 per cent with limited parliamentary scrutiny.
Newstart and Youth Allowance – Raise the Rate
• Business and industry groups support raising the rate including KPMG who have called for a $100 per week increase.
• 20 years ago Newstart was 92 per cent of the aged pension. Now it is 61 per cent.
• Newstart is one of the lowest, if not the lowest, unemployment benefit in the OECD.
• Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients currently receive only $40 per day.
Source: NTCOSS media release
Image: What the new card will look like, Department of Social Services website.