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Labour’s attempt to claim a credit for indexing welfare while choosing to leave jobseekers in poverty is insulting

The 47th Legislature is back for its second fortnight, the last before the October budget, and once again major policy is on the agenda. The Senate debated the euthanasia rights bill, which was passed by the lower house; ACT Senator David Pocock is “not convinced” it will pass this week, despite 78% of Australians backing it, including 79% Catholics. The Labor Climate Bill is also before the Senate, where it is expected to pass with the support of the Greens and independents. The Greens will try to add their ‘climate trigger’, while Pocock and Jacqui Lambie push for the Climate Change Authority to be required to publish its advice to the climate minister (the couple were disappointed by the party’s ‘lukewarm’ response Labor so far). Media interviews were dominated by concerns over the cost of living, with journalists pushing for the government to deal with growing pressures, including tomorrow’s interest rate hike. Labor boasts that welfare recipients are set to receive ‘the biggest increase in 30 years’, but the increase is only due to indexation to match record inflation. How can Labor claim credit for something it didn’t do, while doing so little to help struggling job seekers?

It has been, quite frankly, infuriating at Morrison’s level to see Labor trying to claim credit for this automatic raise. It is not something that the Albanian government chose to be done (the indexed hike would have happened under a coalition government), and this equates to a $0 increase in real terms (beneficiaries are still falling, with non-discretionary inflation still higher than the CPI). “We are offering the biggest pension increase in 30 years,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese boasted on his Instagram account, alongside a picture of a smiling pensioner. “Our guiding principles as government are to ensure that no one is left behind,” Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth wrote in a statement. “Work Cares” tweeted Senator Murray Watt, in perhaps the most sickening example. There was, of course, a Dorothy Dixer on the subject at Question Time, with Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips giving Rishworth the opportunity to brag about today’s ‘announcement’ and put the boot in opposition.

Today’s modest “increase” is nothing to brag about, and it’s appalling to think that JobSeeker’s biggest increase in decades equates to less than $2 a day. Welfare recipients will be no better off, writes the Anti-Poverty Center, noting that the government “wrongly equates indexation of payments with an ‘increase’ in payments.” (Labour looks good across the difference between “real” and literal wage increases.) But what’s particularly insulting about the government’s comeback is that it comes at the same time it refuses to pay. increase the rate of JobSeeker. Ministers have continued to rule out any real increase in the budget, citing debt – a depressing stance in relation to their decision to stick with phase three tax cuts. speaking on RN breakfast this morning the Prime Minister tried to demand future tax cuts were out of his controlavoiding responsibility because they were not his “choice”. All of this, of course, is the government’s choice. As Green Senator Janet Rice answered, poverty is a political choice.

It’s ironic, some have Noted, that the government wants recognition of the automatic indexation of social assistance, while avoiding being responsible for the things it actively chooses not to do. It would be one thing for Labor to say it cannot afford a budget increase for JobSeeker, apologizing remorsefully to all those who voted for him in the hope of seeing more help for those who struggle the most. But bragging publicly about all she does for welfare recipients, when it’s an automatically indexed raise, is akin to gaslighting.

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