Politics

Actual Experts Say That Our Welfare System Is “Unnecessarily Cruel” And Should Be Fixed

Think your Youth Allowance is too low? This guy agrees.

It’s just under one week until the Federal Budget, and everyone’s got an opinion on where the money should go this year. Thankfully, some of those opinions are pretty good — take leading economist Chris Richardson, who’s urging the government to prioritise raising Australia’s “unnecessarily cruel” Centrelink payments.

“I’m a longstanding campaigner for budget repair, but I would rank it behind the need to lift unemployment benefits in Australia,” he told the ABC.

He’s probably onto something here. As people who actually receive Centrelink payments have been pointing out for years, these payments are often staggeringly, unfairly low. Unemployment payments haven’t been rising alongside the minimum wage, which basically means that welfare recipients are falling further and further behind, making it harder and harder to catch up.

Payments like Newstart and Youth Allowance, which young people often rely on, have also remained low — Newstart recipients are expected to live on around $40 a day. Not to mention the countless cruel schemes Centrelink has cooked up to bully people over what turned out to be fake debt.

As Richardson put it to the ABC, “we here in Australia don’t have a dole-bludger problem — what we have is a society that is unnecessarily cruel.”

The ABC reports that Deloitte’s annual Budget Monitor, which Richardson worked on, is calling on the government to raise unemployment benefits by $50 per week, costing about $3 billion in total. And if one of the nation’s top economists says the government can afford that — and should urgently prioritise it — maybe they’ll finally listen.