Following a question from the audience regarding when the rate would be lifted for people who are currently not working, the member for Goldstein in Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs argued that it does not exist to act as a sustainable income for the unemployed.
“You can live off it, but it is very, very difficult, and no one’s pretending otherwise,” Wilson said.
“Very much the focus of Newstart is that people don’t end up there. The social safety net is supposed to be a trampoline, and not supposed to be a hammock, where people get used to it, and accommodated to it.”
Wilson went on to say that the ability to allocate more money for people living off Newstart was a challenge, and that he was not sure if there would be funding allocated in tonight’s Federal Budget to ease the pressure.
“Of course, the people who are on it are always going to want more money, but the reality is that money has to be taken from somebody else.”
Wilson was quick to point out that the government has been making other efforts to assist the unemployed, such as creating more employment opportunities for those in need, therefore reducing the reliance on the Newstart payment.
“The government has been delivering 1100 jobs a day to try and provide, not that safety net as a hammock, but a safety net as a trampoline, so that people can stand on their own two feet and be able to live off Newstart.”
The current rate for single people with no dependent is $545.80 fortnightly, equating to $38.90 per day.
The topic was raised after Federal MP Julie Banks declared last week that she could live off the $40 per day allowance.
The Q&A audience member who raised the question, Tiarne Crowther, described the payment as “seemingly impossible” to live on due to the lack of affordable rentals available for people on the Newstart Allowance.
Her opinion was supported by Shadow Minister for Human Services, Linda Burney, who argued that everyday expenses such as groceries, rent and utilities make living off the payment “almost impossible”.
“I could not live off $40 a day, and anyone who says that they can comfortably, they are living in a bubble.”