Jobseeker payments: I was a banker, now I’m on welfare – Michmutters

Jobseeker payments: I was a banker, now I’m on welfare

As someone who has spent most of his life working full-time and paying taxes, I’m aware that it’s hard for people with a regular income to understand what it’s like to survive on a shoestring budget. Living on Jobseeker involves hard choices. These are between healthcare or food, shelter or utilities, and other fundamentals. It’s not enough to assist people to find employment. A hungry or unwell applicant will not perform well at an interview, or undertake an aptitude test. Most recruiters now use online testing for reasoning, problem-solving and basic literacy and numeracy. Transport fares or running a vehicle is a huge impost.


Some people argue if Jobseeker increases there will be a disincentive for people to seek employment. This is a nonsensical view. The current maximum rate is about 40 per cent of the minimum wage. It is below the two most widely used poverty lines. Even if Jobseeker were doubled it would still be well below the minimum wage.

We are a wealthy nation, and the burden of economic repair should not be carried by the lowest income households in our country. It makes no sense on moral, ethical or humanitarian grounds. It also makes no economic sense.

Increasing Jobseeker will improve the quality of life of recipients in that they would be able to buy food, including fresh fruit and vegetables, boosting sales for Australian businesses and farmers. By contrast, higher income earners receiving the tax cuts set to go ahead in 2024 are likely to spend more of that on discretionary goods, such as cars, electronics and higher-end merchandise. As we do not make those items here, the winners will be the shareholders in Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, New York and London.

If that money was redirected to those on income support, more of that money would remain here. The evidence was clearly demonstrated during COVID when Jobseeker and Youth Allowance were temporarily boosted.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told us the new Labor government would not leave anyone behind, yet he and ministers have indicated that Jobseeker will not be increased or reviewed in the first budget. As the cost of just about everything rises, how are those struggling not being left behind?

For the unemployed, every dollar counts, and any rise is welcome. But to enable the impoverished to live with dignity, the Jobseeker payment should be increased to about $80 per day.

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