Politics

Labor Knows $40 Isn’t Enough To Live On, But Still Doesn’t Think Jobseeker Should Stay

Anthony Albanese says he knows the old Jobseeker payment wasn't enough to live on - but he still doesn't think the new Jobseeker increase should be permanent.

anthony albanese albo

In just over three months time, the Jobseeker and Jobkeeper payments will come to an abrupt end.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who aren’t looking forward to that fateful September day when their income support payments disappear altogether or are halved back to the level they were before the coronavirus crisis spurred the government to raise the rate.

Economists are concerned that the end of the stimulus will lead to a massive economic shock, especially with unemployment forecast to hit double-digit figures in the next few months (it’s currently at 6.2%). Almost 600,000 people lost their jobs in April alone.

That’s why — perhaps optimistically — some were hoping Labor would support the current Jobseeker increase becoming permanent.

Those hopes have been shot down in a ball of flames.

While speaking on Today Labor leader Anthony Albanese simultaneously argued $40 isn’t enough to live on, but Jobseeker should not be extended, but the government should not cut off support overnight.

He told Karl Stefanovic the extra COVID-19 supplement should instead be tapered off, but when asked what that tapering off would actually look like he said that decision should be made “closer to the point”.

Yesterday he emphasised his position, while again not naming the rate Labor would fight for, or giving a date for this alternative deadline he’d like to see.

In an ideal world that’s what a strong Opposition would do — scrutinise the government’s actions,  foster healthy debate, and try to give some clarity to people who are staring down the barrel of their only income source being halved during an economic crisis.

The only detail Albo has provided is that he believes keeping the current increase is not a “reasonable proposition“.

“What I said is, $40 a day isn’t enough for people to live on. The government acknowledged that when they increased Jobseeker … this doesn’t change after the event,” Albo said. “Now I don’t think it should be kept at the level where it is, where Jobseeker is higher than the aged pension. That’s not a reasonable proposition.

“But it is the case I think that job seekers shouldn’t go back down to $40 a day.”

Right. Ok. So we’ve settled somewhere between ‘the old dole is unliveable’ to ‘the new dole is too high’.

The current Jobseeker payment is just over $1100 a fortnight — the COVID-19 supplement was its first legislated increase in more than 20 years.

The aged pension that Albo is using as a comparison is currently set at a maximum of $860.60 for singles or $1,297.40 for couples. That rate is also indexed twice a year. For context, the minimum wage is $740.80.

Once the coronavirus supplement ends, Jobseekers will have to make do on a base rate of $565.70 a a fortnight. While Labor says they don’t want to go back to this rate, they haven’t put forward a plan to prevent it.

“We’re not saying (Jobseeker) must remain where it is. But the idea that you’ll go back to $40 a day is untenable. It’s bad economics. It’s bad for job seekers to actually be able to be too worried about surviving from day to day to be in a position to seek employment,” Albo told The Today Show.

So no matter what happens, your Jobseeker payments are going to be cut — so you’d better get used to budgeting with a whole lot less.