Happy EOFYS! (Don’t let the tax cuts overwhelm you on the way out)

You can’t have missed it. EVERY AUSTRALIAN TAXPAYER IS GETTING A TAX CUT. Well, anyone earning above the tax free threshold is. Anyone paying GST or excise other other taxes that disproportionally impact the poorer peeps only isn’t.

Apparently, recipients of the age pension, a disability support pension and carer payments will be able to earn more before their payments are reduced. Singles can now earn $212 a fortnight (previously $204) and couples can earn $372 (previously $360). Let’s ignore the face that those people are currently on sub-poverty level payments because they’re supposed to be caring for themselves or others full time and really shouldn’t have to go out to work for that elusive block of cheese. Aspirational cheese.

I’m still slightly bitter that the energy rebate is less, even though it was just stupid to begin with. Also jelly of those states going to elections getting extra from their state labor where GST splits have allowed it. My bill is only going up, and here I am hoping my stepson’s JobSeeker application gets approved before the next bill so we can use his backpay to pay that. Waiting time for Jobseeker is still about 12 weeks I hear, so it lines up.

I’ll be relieved when tomorrow comes and the mailing lists I’m signed up for for various organisations with charitable status will stop asking for end-of financial year contributions. Though I have shared this one for Southlakes, the local community support organisaion near me that’s run on the smell of an oily rag, feeding families each week after Centrelink refers them their way rather then government deigning it time to Raise the Rate above the poverty line.

$12 bag of expired food items from a foodbank

I’ve starting attending rental inspections for the step-kid and bub to mover back to Newcastle, there’s so little out there and so many families at each inspection. At least we all have housing, it’s not ideal but it’s shelter.

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.

Image

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.

Image

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

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?

 

 

Welfare Dependency is a Good Thing, Actually

Two alieds in regal gear with text Why does the working class, the larger of the two classes, not simply eat the rich?

Yeah, The Poors are cranky again, this time because a “think tank” has decided there’s too many of us on welfare and that it’s a bad thing. They also decided that the NDIS is welfare and double counted people on that and on support payments like the disability support pension and Job Seeker, so aside from their numbers being dodgy, they seem to think that people on the NDIS are the ones suckling that cash cow, whether really it’s the  businesses and “not for profits” making money off disabled people’s need to get out of bed or shower who are raking it in.

Mel argued today that welfare dependency isn’t actually a thing, and she has a point, but I’d like to also argue that being dependent on welfare is a good thing, actually, and the safety net should be more reliable and available to more people.

People shouldn’t be waiting over three months from applying for the aged pension or youth allowance to see any money. They shouldn’t be having their payment suspended due to an error from a JSP, they shouldn’t have to spend hours on hold if they can even get on hold to Centrelink to get their entitlements reinstated.

Welfare SHOULD be dependable as a safety net. For those who can’t work, for those who are sick or disabled or aged or caring for themselves or others. We should be able to access it in a timely fashion when circumstances arise like unemployment or a new baby. Welfare dependence is a good thing, actually, and I wish Australia’s welfare system was more dependable.