I’m tired, sore and disappointed. Happy Budget Hangover day

This but it’s May 2024:

A couple of days ago we heard that there was gonna be some sort of increase to the useless rent assistance payment in this budget. That turned out to be 10% from September 20’s next indexation, up to $9/week depending on how much you already get, if you’re one of people who can actually access it. If my rent goes up less than $10/week at the end of the year (if I’m lucky enough to get a renewed lease hey) I’ll be shocked. Shocked.

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5000 people on JobSeeker who have assessed work capacity of <15 hours (and by all rights should be on DSP if the rules for that weren’t so restrictive) will get a slightly higher rate of Jobseeker, like the over 55s who have been on Jobseeker for 9 months or more. I guess it’s their substitute for not having a sickness benefit – so Cancer patients can afford to pay for parking at the hospital for treatment or something.

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No actual JobSeeker or other welfare increases, despite the hopes and prayers of the community sector and the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee. Thoughts and prayers that I beg them to at least persist with for the next 12 months, because Labor can’t be re-electable without a plan to bring welfare payments to the poverty line in their 2025 election promises.

The $300 energy bill subsidy for all is less than pensioners and families got this financial year (you might be getting some extra in Qld or WA from their state labor governments going to elections this year), and won’t be felt by those who don’t need it and $50 less subsidy a quarter WILL be felt by me. So Yeah. Not impressed. Also, straight to the billing company, quarter by quarter no chance of using it in one hit to catch up or to use for something else. (or someone else if you want to spend your subsidies and tax cuts on Andrew Leigh’s dream of a doubled charity sector by 2030).

Medicines are being capped at their current top rates ($7.70 for pensioners, $31.60 for everyone else) for a few years. So that’ll mean getting less behind, something I yelled about them doing sooner, and yay they’ve done it. Which is great, cos I’ve been having health concerns, and having to pay upfront for the GP isn’t going anywhere for most of us as most GPs haven’t returned to bulk billing, and the average gap in $44 a session now. My scans and blood tests were bulk billed last week, but still need $76 upfront for an appointment for follow-up  so I’m going on Friday, pension day!

I’ll leave you with the darling Catherine Caine, brains behind Nobody Deserves Poverty, and her budget reaction from last night.

Love yas. xo

We’ll have our own committee #LeftBehindCommittee

With hookers and blackjack, because we don’t discriminate against sex workers and some of us are quite the card counters. I try to stick to gambling with virtual money, such as in Red Dead or GTA, as I’m sure I could fall down that addictive rabbit hold if I had the chance.

Oh, the Budget is coming up fast, 12 days to go!

Today, the Australian Unemployed Workers Union launched our response to the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, since it both won’t have any current welfare recipients on it nor be listened to by the government anyway. It’s called the “Left Behind Committee” and we’d love to have your submission about what it’s like to “live” off welfare in this country and what you’d like to see in the Budget and upcoming “announceables” since there’s an election in 12 months too.

Post your submission to Twitter with the hashtag #LeftBehindCommittee, or if you want to send something longer email it to media@auwu.org.au (with “Left Behind Committee” as the subject-line). The union is going to collate and print the submissions and take them to Canberra.

Greg Jericho posted a piece this morning calling the government out for not WANTING to Raise the Rate of jobseeker. For choosing to not fund it, for choosing to fund other things, because budgets are all about choices and it’s certainly a choice to have called for JobSeeker to remain above the poverty line post-covid supplement while you were the opposition but continue to think that celebrating the $20/wk raise last year for the lowest payments as having done your job and being enough to take you through the the next election? A twenty dollar a week increase that was absorbed before it even came in 6 months later. You honestly can’t believe that the average person believes that people are better off now than when you got into office?

The call for Jobseeker to be 90% of the pension is weak, but I was hoping you’d decide to do it, and then you’d be left alone by many for awhile. I mean it would make a HUGE difference to people’s lives, even if it’s still leaving everyone who relies of welfare as their main income below the poverty line. Yep, even pensioners and the like. Even most single parent pensioners even when you take into account their other family benefits and rent assistance, they’re still likely to be below the poverty line, and then their kid turns 14 they’re thrown onto Jobseeker again, a suddenly slashing of a family’s income.

As a disability pensioner, I lay low. I resent that aged pensioners got ore wiggle room with how much they can earn before their pension reduces, even though I’m not working currently myself. Giving people options to try to go into the workforce is one thing that being on DSP is meant to bring, without the hovering disability employment services telling you you’re doing it wrong, or transitioning to more hours too slow, or taking too many days off for your disability. The slight amount of more money also allows for a bit less stress when dialing up or down work hours. But, the truth is, on the partner rate I’m getting $60/day instead of $80 since I simply have a partner. “Fortunately” he earns too little for me to lose any pension, but isn’t that a whole issue in itself, that disabled people lose benefits because the state sees their partners as their carers and keepers? The same applies for the aged pension, based off the 80s single income family, buying a house, retiring having 1 or certainly probably not 2 full time wages leading up to retirement. Those who don’t own their own home by then are screwed, continuing to rent while rent assistance comes in as an afterthought.

I’d be curious to see what would happen to partner and pension rates if the JobSeeker single allowance went up to that 90% figure, or about $72/day. Where would that partnered rate go to? Would it be like when the covid supplement came in and people were getting more on Jobseeker than DSP? Weird times that I hope happen and create chaos and make people think about what the hell we’re doing to people in the name of a budget surplus.

Why should we care about poverty?

So I started a short course last night – “Understanding Poverty, Inequality and Social Disadvantage in Australia“. My fees were paid for by AUWU, which was sweet of them, and will help put me on the same page as all the not for profits and their staff doing and writing the course when I’m posting for Nobody Deserves Poverty. Last night’s lecture was a lot of background theory and definitions, I may have glazed over at points when they started talking numbers, but it was good to be able to take time to do readings and put my thoughts into words for a more academic audience, rather than my blog posts or Twitter. Like formulating a response to someone hinting towards personal responsibility for poverty without saying as much in pre discussions. But still bringing myself and my experiences, I mean I was there in the Zoom with my hello kitty fleece and onesies downunder onesie on….

In two weeks Jim’ll have given his budget speech, papers will have their winners and losers, and other parties and organisations will be preparing their responses. And there will be a year til the Federal Election. Which should be interesting, let’s see if Albanese can come back from angering many women on the weekend, not just by lying by lying about lying, and using the “But I’m the primeminister” line which was not at all helpful.

Free coffee!

We were talking in line at the foodbank this morning, since we were there before opening, about how everyone is just extra stressed at the moment, and that how if someone pushes in here or another example was a guy wandering cluelessly in front of the like at Centrelink, you have to be cautious about calling them out on it. Because sometimes you get the oops, I’m sorry, but sometimes you might get punched. If politicians aren’t able to keep their cool with women and model that behaviour, how’s everyone else going?

So, why should we care about poverty? was a question posed at some time last night. Perhaps it’s beyond politicians to care about it because of it being the right thing to do to look after others, but perhaps the possibility of being voted out, of rising unrest among the masses, might make them care. Or they may just try to arrest their way through it.

It’s the start of May, so I’m meant to look back at some of the things I got at the foodbanks last month. It was an up and down month financially here, with the boys struggling to finish a job and finally getting paid for it, and different places being closed for school or public holidays, or simply not having deliveries that week. But there was a great rockmelon, a terrible bottle of vanilla pepsi max that got poured down the sink, and so many breads and crackers.

I also did a lovely roast chicken with veges from OzHarvest. These little bean tubs keep giving, and I still get very excited when there’s bananas! Then we had good paydays, and braved the supermarkets screaming why is everything so expensive and paying because we could this fortnight for the big and little things we’d been holding out on. I finally got olive oil, but I keep forgetting soy sauce.

There’s 10+ days of rain here, so the boys are working between the showers. Occasionally someone stops to look at the boat for sale on the front lawn but moves on. I’m trying to keep up with washing on the racks, still trying to figure the best place for them. I looked at the app for the electricity and estimate on that freaked me out. So while I think there are many better ways than paying the electricity companies money directly to subsidise our bills, I’m really hoping, personally, for it to continue for another year lol. I’ve said before I don’t see how they could end it before the election, they’ve cornered themselves on that one.

So, happy May Day.

You can do it Jim, you can lift millions out of poverty this budget. I believe in you?

Ahh, Jimmy Jim Jim Jim Jim Jim, Muppet Treasure Island is such a amazing adaptation on the classic novel – pirates, romance, travel and song. Jim here is the kid, wishing for a better live beyond poverty and servitude, taking a risky opportunity to escape that and sail the seven seas.

Pirating is different these days in Australia, as a country we became quite adept at it before streaming services, and with their fragmentation and price rises it’s on the rise once more. I wonder if the average Jim would prefer to know of welfare recipients pirating their favourite shows or spending that $10 on Amazon Prime? Or, as is often the case, they’d rather neither and tell us to sell our PCs, cancel our internet, give up any entertainment and spend that time writing our resumes on the computer at the local library and applying for jobs that don’t want us.

It was quite a week for you numbers guys, Jim. You got your inflation figures in, and they weren’t great and weren’t bad. What stuck out for me is rent was still going up much more than other essentials, and essentials were still going up more than the less essential things in life.

The inflation figures and ensuing panic on HECS debts (though not as bad as last year!) got you to say you might do something about HECS indexation, oh and also about paying final year uni students for their labor on placements so they don’t have to waste the first three years of a degree because they can’t afford to live for those final subjects.

2024: Rental Affordability Snapshot Australians are facing a rental market that has never been less affordable. The 2024 Rental Affordability Snapshot surveyed rental listings across Australia and found that affordability has crashed to record lows. Out of 45,115 rental listings, we found that: 289 rentals (0.6%) were affordable for a person earning a full-time minimum wage 89 rentals (0.2%) were affordable for a person on the Age Pension 31 rentals (0.1%) were affordable for a person on the Disability Support Pension 3 rentals, (0%) all sharehouses, were affordable for a person on JobSeeker 0 rentals (0%) were affordable for a person on Youth Allowance. In response to the findings, Anglicare Australia is calling on the Government to return to directly funding and providing housing itself, instead of leaving housing to the private sector. Anglicare Australia is also calling on the Government to wind back landlord tax concessions.

Much needed, but of course they don’t solve the problem of all the people who can’t afford to live and rent while they study because Youth Allowance and Austudy are so low and there’s no affordable rentals for people trying to better their chances of employment as you keep asking us to do, through study.

Then there’s the “Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee” that you put together last year, asked them for their recommendation, a key one was raising JobSeeker and other related payments to 90% of the aged pension, which you said was too much so threw $20/week at those people, and they’ve come back with the same figure this year, to which you’ve replied that ppl should be happy about last year’s response and that you can’t find everything hey?

Of course you “can’t fund every good idea” but there’s a difference between saying you can’t fund a good idea and saying you don’t want to fund an increase to welfare payments above the poverty line that would see benefits for all in the community – from ensuring people can afford to feed themselves, to decreases in crime that was seen during the Covid supplements, and might help that “social cohesion” you keep banging on about.

It does sting when you boast about a surplus, or even if you don’t boast about it but just say that people’s health and welfare now is not as important as your other choices – to keep a surplus to later, or any time you announce money for submarines, or  we remember that the stage three tax cuts, while you modified them, still favour those on higher incomes to the tune of a quarter of a JobSeeker’s annual payment. An amount that they would have been better off by last year if you’d implemented your committee’s recommendations.

So Jim, you still have two weeks to play around with your numbers, and my people still have two weeks to try to get in your ears about welfare recipients lives and our ability to participate in society being worth funding. Maybe the image of the older lady being arrested over Canesten and frozen pizza is one that might make you think people being able to afford their groceries is a good thing?

Or Mel being reminded that your other lil numbers guy, Andrew Leigh of the gold plated cheese platter, used her story about not being able to afford to eat and getting scurvy while in opposition to call for a raise on Jobseeker, but then won’t do anything to help her now and instead posts cute cartoons about evidence based policy and scurvy on Twitter, while we try to remind him that there was a great experiment on a no-strings livable basic income here in Australia with the Covid supplement and the removal of obligations in 2020. A period that saw improvements in property crime rates, because people could afford to live.

So, you can do it, Jim. You can raise JobSeeker and other welfare payments. You can raise them above the poverty line, anything less is just a reminder that some people are worth leaving behind, and you don’t want to leave anyone behind do you Jim?

 

 

Five weeks til the Budget, are you trying to dash our hopes already Jim?

You are the federal treasurer. You can pull the lever at any time to reduce homelessness and poverty. However, it means you won't be able to do a press conference boasting about a budget surplusWhat do you do?
Jim Chalmers’ Trolley Problem

It’s five weeks until Jim Chalmer’s hands down the budget that Labor will likely try to ride into the next election. “Cost of living” is the buzz phrase still, and he and his colleagues are drip feeding us what to expect, and also what NOT to expect.

This week Jimmy made sure to play down any hopes for anything significant for those on welfare. We’ll likely see a repeat of the $125 ish a quarter energy bill relief (or we won’t see it it goes straight to the companies) because your bill without it would be a pre-election nightmare for Labor. Plus it’s also been a tool for them to fudge the inflation figures – if the discount is applied BEFORE it gets to our inbox, it doesn’t count as inflation, right? Even though the gov still pays for it, the company still pockets it, and everyone gets to grin and shake hands.

Of course, the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee is yet to report back, as they are to do at least a whole two weeks before each budget. But last year’s key recommendation of raising Job Seeker to 90% of the pension rate was ignored, so I’m not holding my breath for their recommendations – but I’m curious will they go as hard as last year? Or, will they not and say why bother?

Also, where are those backbenches who signed the call for a significant increase to Job Seeker? Were they bought off for $20 a week too?