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Politicians, advocates and prominent Australians call for JobSeeker increase in Federal Budget

Politicians from across the aisle, academics, business leaders, community advocates and other prominent Australians have joined in a rare display of unity to urge the Prime Minister to implement the first priority recommendation of the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee and deliver a substantial increase to JobSeeker and related payments in the May Budget.

Labor MPs Alicia Payne, Louise Miller-Frost, Michelle Ananda-Raja and Kate Thwaites, Liberal MP Bridget Archer, the Greens, and a wide range of independents and cross bench politicians including Kate Chaney, Zoe Daniel, Helen Haines, Jacqui Lambie, David Pocock, Monique Ryan, Kylea Tink, Sophie Scamps, Lidia Thorpe and Andrew Wilkie, have all signed an Open Letter urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to lift Jobseeker and related payments to help address “structural injustice” and “increased deprivation”.

Sitting members of the Federal Parliament are joined by former senior politicians and bureaucrats, First Nations leaders, leading economists, community sector leaders and prominent Australians detailed below.

The Open Letter to the Prime Minister comes after the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, which was established as part of an historic agreement between the Government and Senator Pocock, recommended the government deliver a substantial increase to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and related payments as a “first priority”. The Committee found that the payments are inadequate against all existing benchmarks and that increasing their rate to 90% of the Age Pension would improve adequacy and return them to payment relativities of 1999.

The Open Letter, co-ordinated by the Australian Council of Social Service, says: “We all want the security of knowing that we’ll be supported during tough times.

“But right now, the rate of JobSeeker is so low that people are being forced to choose between paying their rent or buying enough food and medicine.”

Currently for a single person JobSeeker is $49.50 per day and Youth Allowance is $40.20 per day.

ACOSS research last year found that six in ten people on income support were eating less or reporting difficulty getting medicine or care because their incomes are totally inadequate. This figure increased to seven in ten in March 2023.

Former politicians and bureaucrats to have signed include Brian Howe AO, Kathryn Greiner AO, Cathy McGowan AO, Robert Tickner AO, Doug Cameron, Jenny Macklin, John Hewson AM, Fred Chaney AO, Verity Firth AM, Renée Leon PSM, Andrew Podger AO and Marie Coleman AO.

Economists, philanthropists and business and union leaders include Ken Henry AC, Jeff Borland, Danielle Wood, Chris Richardson, David Thodey AO, Emma Dawson, Nicki Hutley, Angela Jackson, Sally McManus, Michele O’Neil, Simon Holmes a Court, Richard Dennis, Melinda Cilento, Paul Zahra, Jill Reichstein AM and Diane Smith-Gander AO.

First Nations leaders including Professor Megan Davis, Pat Turner, Antoinette Braybrook, Dr

Hannah McGlade, Mick Gooda, June Oscar AO and Thomas Mayor have signed, along with prominent Australians including Patrick McGorry AO, Fiona Stanley AO, Tim Costello AO, Tony Nicholson, Georgie Dent, Craig Foster.

Academics including Professor Kay Cook, Professor Nareen Young, Professor Miranda Stewart, Professor Peter Whiteford, Professor Eileen Baldry AO, Assoc Professor Ben Phillips, Eva Cox AO, and Professor Julian Disney AO have also signed.

Community sector leaders across the country have signed including Hang Vo ACOSS President, CEOS of State and Territory Councils of Social Services, Mohammad Al-Kafaji FECCA CEO, Narelle Clay CEO Southern Youth and Family Services, Matt Gardiner CEO 54 Reasons, Stella Avramopoulos CEO Good Shepherd, Kasy Chambers CEO Anglicare Australia, with the full list of community sector leaders in the attached Open Letter.

The letter concludes by saying: “We call on the Federal Government to substantially increase JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and related income support payments in the 2023 budget so as to not leave people in need behind.”

So far more than 335 people have signed the letter.

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