McGowan asks for government to support Bill to fix ‘broken’ system
CATHY McGowan (MHR, Indi) has called on the government to support proposed legislation to establish an independent Social Security Commission.
Ms McGowan introduced the Social Security Commission Bill 2018 on Monday which would establish an independent body to assess social welfare payments and prevent recipients from falling below the poverty line.
The proposed legislation is supported by the Australian Council of Social Service, Catholic Social Services Australia, Uniting Care Australia, Anglicare Australia and several Indi-based groups.
Respondents to Ms McGowan’s 2018 Indi Budget Survey listed social welfare among their top five concerns.
During Question Time, Ms McGowan asked the Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan, if the government would support the Bill to which he said they are not going to outsource the country’s welfare system.
“The Government may not be prepared to act, but here we have support from welfare groups for the Commission,” Ms McGowan said.
“The rate of Newstart has not increased in real terms for 24 years.
“The maximum weekly payment a single person on Newstart can receive is $345, including allowances such as Rent Assistance and the $4.40 Energy Supplement everyone on Newstart receives.
“This is well below the $433 figure to cover the basic costs of living per week.
In the Indi survey 24 per cent of respondents ranked social services as one of their top three issues and 80 per cent rated social services as either very im- portant or fairly important.
“My office regularly hears from constituents who find the rates of social welfare do not meet the costs of transport to employment interviews or costs of employment related goods,” Ms McGowan said.
“We also hear from people who are struggling to pay bills or buy food.”