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'Newstart makes me suicidal': Reality of welfare in Australia

This is the reality of living on Newstart. Source: Getty
This is the reality of living on Newstart. Source: Getty

Despite Scott Morrison’s persistent claims that Newstart payments in Australia are one of the best forms of welfare support worldwide, stats from July this year showed Newstart was in fact one of the worst forms of welfare.

In fact, the $40-a-day payments are the worst in the world, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Yahoo Finance recently interviewed a 61-year-old Newstart recipient who, prior to relying on welfare, worked at Westpac.

He revealed the isolation caused by welfare, and how the low payments make it extremely difficult to make ends meet.

“It’s normal life things that you just can’t do,” he said. “You’ve got no money for clothes.

“The chances of me having any sort of romance is zero – the possibility of me buying a woman a coffee – one coffee is $5 – that’s $10, which is three meals for me. There’s no chance of that.”

And just one look at the Newstart hashtag on Twitter shows the tough reality of living on Australia’s welfare payments.

“Being on Newstart makes me suicidal,” one Twitter user said. “I’m not looking for permanent work as a means to improve myself and my skills...No. I’m looking for something, anything, to get me away from this welfare hell.”

Others pointed to the fact that parliamentary salaries continue to increase.

“Scott Morrison is the highest paid parliamentarian in the developed world - $1504 per day. Newstart is the lowest unemployment benefit in the world. Raise Newstart now,” one user Tweeted.

But rather than have increasing Newstart on its agenda, a leaked government memo revealed Scott Morrison was instead looking at making it tougher to obtain welfare.

Under the headline ‘play to our economic strengths’, the PM said he intended to prevent the “misuse of welfare” and help more Australians into jobs through the “expansion of the cashless debit card and trialling mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients”.

“Newstart is a safety net, it’s not meant to be a replacement for a salary,” the memo stated.

Labor’s pre-election Newstart position

Founder of the Australian Unemployment Union, Jeremy Poxon, tweeted that the Australian Labor Party, in its pre-election campaign, omitted Newstart entirely.

“Not one mention of Newstart - I am f***ing speechless,” he tweeted.

“Labor’s pre-election Newstart position was extremely bad politics & it’s staggering that they haven’t...addressed it at all in their review.”

Others agreed: “It’s almost as though they’ve learnt absolutely nothing.”

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