Prominent Australians urge PM: Don’t cut Newstart

Comedian Corinne Grant, former Liberal leader John Hewson, award winning author Anna Funder, and businessman John Menadue AO join a list of 32 prominent Australians signing the open letter.

The letter reads opens quoting the Business Council of Australia from their submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Adequacy of the Allowance Payment System for Jobseekers and Others, in which they stated:

“The rate of the Newstart Allowance for jobseekers no longer meets a reasonable community standard of adequacy and may now be so low as to represent a barrier to employment.”

Since that submission, Newstart has sunk further below the poverty line and is now 26% below the long established measure. If the proposed cuts of the clean energy supplement go ahead it will sink to 32% under the poverty line.

“Across the political spectrum there is an understanding that cutting Newstart is terrible economic and social policy,” Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said.

“Unemployment has grown under the last term of government. There is no justification to compound economic pain for some of Australia’s poorest.

The cuts stand in fiscal contrast to policies proposed by the Coalition which will not only nullify any savings made but cost the budget billions, including cutting the deficit levy for those on over $180,000 and cutting taxes on company profits.

“For the government to cut a payment which is at a record low and going to the very least well off Australians when there are so many areas of largess in the federal budget is bad policy and bad politics.

“Cutting the supplement for new recipients will also create a 2 tier welfare system that will only increase inequality in Australia,” Oquist said.

The open letter concludes:

“A government that plans to give more to the richest Australians while cutting support for people below the poverty line will only further entrench inequality in Australia. We urge the Prime Minister and all political leaders not to cut Newstart.” 

Full list of signatories:

Andrew Dettmer

National President, Australian Manufacturing Workers Union

Anna Funder

Novelist, Miles Franklin Prize 2012

Barbara Pocock

Emeritus Professor

Ben Oquist

Executive Director, The Australia Institute

Cheryl Kernot

Social Business Fellow, Centre for Social Impact

Corinne Grant

Comedian, writer and author

Dee Madigan

Executive Creative Director, Campaign Edge

Dr David Morawetz

Economist

Dr Elizabeth Hill

Political Economy, University of Sydney

Dr Jim Stanford

Director and economist, Centre for Future Work

Dr John Falzon

CEO, St Vincent de Paul Society

Dr John McKinnon

Chair, The Australia Institute

Eva Cox AO

Adjunct Professor, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, UTS

Faith FitzGerald

Secretary, John Cain Foundation

Frank Stilwell

Emeritus Professor Political Economy, University of Sydney

Ged Kearney

President, Australian Council Trade Unions

James Legge

Company director, Six Degrees

James MacKenzie

Director, Maurice Blackburn

Jeannie Rea

National President, National Tertiary Education Union

John Menadue AO

Former senior public servant and businessman

Josh Bornstein

Company director, lawyer

Marcus Westbury

Writer and broadcaster

Martin J Cowling

Acting National Director, UnitingCare Australia

Paul Barratt

Chair, Australia21; former Secretary, Department of Defence

Professor Carmen Lawrence

Former Premier of WA

Professor David Peetz

Professor of Employment Relations, Griffith University

Professor John Buchanan

University of Sydney Business School

Professor John Hewson

Crawford School, Australia National University

Professor John Quiggin

University of Queensland

Professor Marian Baird AO

University of Sydney Business School

Professor Spencer Zifcak

Allan Myers Professor of Law, Australian Catholic University

Robert Manne

Emeritus Professor of Politics, La Trobe University

Simon Chapman AO

Emeritus Professor , University of Sydney

Simon Sheikh

Founder of Future Super

Stuart McMillan

President of the Uniting Church in Australia

Van Badham

Writer & columnist for Guardian Australia

Media Inquiries: Tom Burmester 0468 926 833

Media Enquiries

Anna Chang Communications Director

0422 775 161

anna@australiainstitute.org.au