If the pandemic proved anything it was that poverty is a policy choice. In 2020, as part of its pandemic response, the government doubled the rate of unemployment payments. Australia Institute research showed this one act lifted 470,000 people out of poverty. Unfortunately, the government then cut unemployment payments back down to levels below the poverty line, pushing hundreds of thousands of people back into poverty.
This budget was the perfect time to reform the chronically low rate of income support paid to the unemployed. Cost of living is an issue, and no one would be feeling the pinch more than the unemployed. So, did we get real reform?
No. Just a patch job to see the Government through to the next election. The unemployed are getting a one-off payment of $250 to help with cost-of-living pressures. This does nothing to solve the long-term problem of the unemployed languishing in poverty. Poverty that we know is a policy choice.