Tasmanian MP Jacqui Lambie has called on the Morrison government to raise the amount of hours Newstart recipients can work before they lose their payments.
According to SMH, Lambie has thrown another spanner in the multifaceted debate about Newstart, saying that those receiving benefits from the government should be encouraged to work longer hours before their payments are reduced or lost.
“It’s about giving them a raise or, at the very minimum, letting them work more hours to encourage them,” Lambie said as reported in SMH.
“They don’t get much money as it is. Why wouldn’t you encourage them and say ‘go and work 12 hours’ or set an amount they can make?"
Related story: Aussies on Newstart often too sick to work, study finds
Currently, Aussies receiving Newstart can only earn up to $104 a fortnight before their payments start reducing.
Paid on a rate of $19 an hour, that’s only about 5.5 hours of work spread out across two weeks. By way of contrast, students on Youth Allowance are allowed to earn up to $437 a fortnight before their payments begin to reduce.
It was wrong to put this restriction on Newstart payments, Lambie said.
“I’m quite sure there would be some people out there on that allowance who would like to do six hours or 12 hours working at weekends,” Lambie said.
“They could earn an extra $150 a week and that makes a significant difference for those people who are on that little bit of crappy money.”
Newstart costs the government approximately $10 billion a year, and the government is reportedly concerned that Lambie’s proposal will raise the cost of Newstart.
Earlier this week, social services minister Anne Rushton told the Senate she wanted more people to go into work, SMH reported.
“One of the things that the research has shown is that people who work for a few hours a week are much more likely to be able to go on and get a job,” Ruston said.
“One of the things that we are absolutely focused on is making sure that there are a series of protections and programs that are wrapped around people who genuinely want to get a job who find themselves in the difficult situation where they don’t have a job.”
Newstart has been a topical issue in Australia recently, with the government copping backlash after it proposed a trial to drug test Newstart recipients. Those who tested positive would have up to 80 per cent of the recipient’s welfare payments put onto a cashless welfare card.
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