Low income earners urged to stand up
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.