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'Shaking with joy': Government doubles dole payment

Anastasia Santoreneos
·3-min read
The government has flagged a temporary raise in the Newstart rate. Source: Getty
The government has flagged a temporary raise in the Newstart rate. Source: Getty

The Federal Government has revealed its second stimulus will include a doubling of the JobSeeker Payment, formerly called Newstart, through a separate coronavirus supplement, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to ravage the economy and people’s hip pockets.

The government will waive the asset test and waiting period for the Coronavirus supplement, allowing more Australians more quickly access to support they need,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

“The supplement will provide an additional $550 a fortnight on top of the existing JobSeeker or Newstart payment and will be available to sole traders, casual workers who meet the income test.

“This means, anyone eligible for the maximum JobSeeker payment will now receive more than $1,100 a fortnight, effectively doubling the jobseeker allowance.”

The Coronavirus supplement will be paid for the next six months on top of their payment each fortnight.

The previous JobSeeker or Newstart payment was $559 per fortnight for singles with no children, and $604.70 per fortnight for singles with children.

The new measures surpass calls from social services groups like ACOSS, who lobbied for an increase of $95 per week in January this year, up from $75 last year.

Australians on the JobSeeker Payment have welcomed the news via social media.

The government’s decision to raise the rate follows vulnerable Aussies’ outrage as the PM flagged just days ago it would offer hundreds of thousands of workers facing joblessness due to the coronavirus crisis access to a temporary wage - one that would have been set at a higher rate than what welfare recipients are currently offered.

The government’s initial plan for transitional income support would have created two classes of unemployed.

“Why not increase Newstart and give everyone a fighting chance?” one user tweeted.

“Amazing how concern for how low Newstart is has been used not to increase Newstart, but to ensure the Deserving Unemployed people get a better deal,” another added.

Mutual obligations relaxed

After the Prime Minister’s advice to socially distance amid the Covid-19 crisis, Australians on welfare have finally seen their mutual obligations relaxed.

Jobseekers will be allowed to request that their face-to-face meetings switch to online channels such as Skype.

They’ll also be allowed to complete training activities like CV writing online. Job fairs have been postponed, as have Centrelink’s ‘work for the dole’ programs.

In the UK, the Department for Work and Pensions revealed it would suspend its rigid welfare conditionality rules, including face-to-face ‘jobcentre interviews’ and the requirement that jobseekers demonstrate they have spent up to 35 hours per week looking for work.

But Employment Minister Michaelia Cash advised mutual obligations will remain in place for “as long as compatible with the advice of health authorities”.

Newstart rolls into ‘JobSeeker Payment’

From Friday, the government has introduced a new welfare payment, JobSeeker Payments, which will replace the Newstart Allowance as the main payment for working-age unemployed Australians.

The new payment will combine seven payments into one, Social Services Minister Anne Ruston stated.

Recipients are not required to take action as the payment transfer occurs automatically, Ruston stated.

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