Jenny Macklin, $38 and a new start | Wednesday 2 January 2013

jmac 1$38 isn’t a hell of a lot of money.

$266.50 a week wouldn’t cover the average rent in Melbourne, which is $380 per week based on the most recent REIV figures.

Of course, you could move to regional Victoria. But the median rent there is still $300. Sure, maybe as you don’t find a job you want immediately, you move into one of the houses/units/apartments that makes up the lower end of the sample.

But what happens in that gap between the old property and the new, as your bond hangs in the balance? Sure, the figure doesn’t include rental assistance, but nor does rental assistance cover that bond.

And then where do you find the money to buy a suit, buy groceries, pay the bills, etc. after the rent?

Of course the issue today is the change to the Parenting Payment (Single) which now transitions to Newstart (ie. the dole) for parents as their child turns 8. And it’s an important one.

But the bigger issue is that Newstart itself is inadequate. It is already inadequate for what it is designed to do, provide people with support in unemployment and guide them back in to employment, which is something that even the Business Council of Australia and economists of Judith Sloan’s ilk argue.

It is grossly inadequate if it’s going to become a catch-all payment for those who have previously been supported on higher payments with long periods of un-or low-employment, now expected to rapidly re-enter the workforce or make do.

Payment Rate per week
Minimum wage $606.40
Parenting Payment (single) $331.85
Newstart (single with dependant) $266.50
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