Archives for posts with tag: welfare

I’ve written a new piece for Guardian Australia, in which I draw upon my own experiences to defend the Australian welfare state against its critics.

Part of the theme of the piece is the way that income support payments can help to promote social mobility. Without family payments and Youth Allowance, it would be much harder for kids from working class backgrounds to go to university, and so on.

This is part (but only part) of the reason I get so exasperated by the absurd “aspirationals” language that Mark Latham and others use. Aspirationals are, at least implicitly, contrasted against some other group, who presumably don’t aspire to much at all. Income support recipients can’t be ‘aspirational’, particularly not if they receive Newstart or Youth Allowance (FTB gets a pass). This is self-evidently piffle, and part of the aim of my piece was to show how income support can help people ‘climb the ladder of opportunity’ or however you wish to phrase it.

Anyway, please read the piece.

Real NSA payment rate

When the Hawke Government came to power in March 1983, the unemployment benefit for a single adult was worth $192 in today’s dollars. By the time Labor left office in 1996, it had lifted the real (inflation-adjusted) benefit, renamed Newstart Allowance, to $245 a week. Over the course of those 13 years in office, the Hawke and Keating Governments raised the real value of the unemployment benefit by $53 per week, a 27.4% rise. Contrary to the recollections of some, increases in unemployment benefits were part of the “Keating model”.

Since Keating left office, the unemployed haven’t fared as well.  It’s worth $252.70 a week now, including the Clean Energy Supplement, a $7.70 or 3.2% increase over 17 years.

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A couple of years ago, the government changed the rules so that families on $150 000 a year or more wouldn’t be eligible to receive family payments. There were the predictable cries of ‘class warfare’, but there  were also claims that $150 000 in Australia leaves you struggling to make ends meet. The Daily Telegraph found a couple on $150k who said “you can survive on $150,000 but you definitely aren’t doing well,” while in The Australian, a couple on $200 000 said “the government are making it bloody hard.”

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