3 December 2019

The Morrison Government’s plan to extend the liquid assets test waiting period for Newstart to up to six months is both cruel and reckless.

The cuts – which passed the House of Representatives last night – will particularly impact residents of regional Victoria in their 50s and 60s, who have spent their entire working lives in the same industry, who are made redundant. 

Currently, people claiming Newstart, Sickness Allowance, Youth Allowance and Austudy must wait up to 13 weeks to access the payments.

The Government wants to extend the maximum Liquid Assets Waiting Period from 13 weeks to 26 weeks.

Currently, there are 6363 Newstart recipients in Gippsland electorate, with 3793 recipients living in Latrobe City Council, 2032 in East Gippsland and 1602 in Wellington. In Indi, there are 1403 Newstart recipients living in Wodonga and 837 in Wangaratta.

There are 5954 Newstart recipients in the Mallee electorate, with 580 recipients living in Horsham, 2173 in Mildura and 680 in Swan Hill, and 5692 Newstart recipients in the Nicholls electorate, with 2665 recipients living in the Greater Shepparton area.

Middle-aged and older Victorians experience particular difficulty re-entering the workforce, due to structural barriers and age discrimination.

These changes will force them to eat into their savings, draw down their assets and drive them into poverty before they can access support.

Australians aged over 55 represent one in four Newstart recipients, the largest cohort on the payment.

The number of over-55s on Newstart has surged by 45 per cent under the Liberals and Nationals.

At a time when Victorians are doing it tough – when the economy is weak and getting weaker – the Morrison Government is cutting support to Victorians who need it the most, and who are most likely to spend.

These cuts mean that Victorians doing it tough have less to spend on the basics and the essentials.

It means they will have less to spend at local businesses.

And it means local businesses will have less to spend on pay rises for workers or to hire more staff. These cuts to Newstart are not only cruel and vindictive, they are reckless. This payment is designed to help people get back on their feet – not put them into a downward spiral.