Low in­come earn­ers urged to stand up

Central and North Burnett Times - - NEWS - Sherele Moody, ARM News­desk

A LEAD­ING wel­fare lob­by­ist is urg­ing thou­sands of Cen­tral and North Bur­nett res­i­dents to speak up for a fair go on in­come sup­port.

The thou­sands of res­i­dents are those strug­gling to make ends meet.

With al­most one in three of our re­gion’s res­i­dents earn­ing well be­low the na­tional poverty in­come line of $20,800 a year for sin­gles and $43,732 for fam­i­lies, Aus­tralian Coun­cil of So­cial Ser­vices chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Cas­san­dra Goldie be­lieved we had enough voices to gain the at­ten­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Mal­colm Turn­bull and Op­po­si­tion Leader Bill Shorten.

Dr Goldie’s call comes on the back of an ARM News­desk anal­y­sis of so­cial se­cu­rity pay­ments that re­veals:

About 2919 – or 28.3 % – of North Bur­nett res­i­dents rely on ben­e­fits to sur­vive com­pared to 15.9% of Bris­bane res­i­dents.

The Cen­tral and North Bur­nett re­gion is home to 1592 pen­sion­ers and 131 low in­come card hold­ers. There are 392 New­start re­cip­i­ents in our re­gion, about 63 young peo­ple col­lect­ing Youth Al­lowance and at least 25 stu­dents re­ceiv­ing Ab­study or Aus­tudy. Our re­gion also has 558 dis­abil­ity sup­port pen­sion­ers and 158 peo­ple re­liant on the sin­gle par­ent­ing pay­ment.

The aged and dis­abil­ity pay­ments are $20,644 a year for sin­gles or $31,148 per cou­ple.

A sin­gle North Bur­nett res­i­dent on New­start will re­ceive just $13,701 a year; cou­ples get around $24,752. The yearly sin­gle par­ent­ing pay­ment is $19,162.

All of the pay­ments are well be­low the re­gion’s me­dian yearly in­come of around $27,356.

It must be noted the yearly in­come de­rives from 2011 Cen­sus data and does not re­flect CPI or min­i­mum wage in­creases.

Dr Goldie said the first pri­or­ity for the next Fed­eral Govern­ment should be in­creas­ing so­cial se­cu­rity pay­ments, par­tic­u­larly the New­start al­lowance.

She backed a pre-bud­get KPMG re­port that said our re­gion’s un­em­ployed res­i­dents needed at least an ex­tra $50 a week just to af­ford the bare es­sen­tials.

Dr Goldie said in­come sup­port for re­gional res­i­dents of­ten strug­gled to cover higher costs as­so­ci­ated with liv­ing out­side of cap­i­tal cities,

“Your lo­cal cir­cum­stances may impact sig­nif­i­cantly whether or not the in­come sup­port you’re re­ceiv­ing will be ad­e­quate to en­sure you’ve got all of the es­sen­tials cov­ered,” she said.

Dr Goldie urged the re­gion’s low in­come earn­ers to fol­low in the foot­steps of fa­ther-of-two Dun­can Stor­rar who left Turn­bull Cabi­net min­is­ter Kelly O’Dwyer strug­gling for an­swers on a re­cent Q&A TV pro­gram when he crit­i­cised her govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to lower the in­come tax thresh­old high in­come earn­ers.

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