Stop the Christmas rate cut: Call the PM and Treasurer

On 10 November, the Prime Minister announced that the government is planning to cut the Coronavirus Supplement from 1 January, and extend it to 28 March.

The Government’s decision of Christmas cut for people on the lowest incomes is a cruel and damaging mistake, especially during record-high unemployment.  It’s a brutal blow that would take away even more of what is keeping millions of people afloat. This cut would hurt people doing it tough, as well as the country’s economic recovery, and could sink hundreds of thousands of people into poverty. 

Can you call the Prime Minister and Treasurer’s office today to stop the rate cut income support at Christmas and instead permanently and adequately increase JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support? 

Here’s what to do:

  1. Call the Prime Minister’s office on 02 6277 7700.
  2. Call the Treasurer’s office on 02 6277 7340.

Organisations and supporters across the country are mobilising to make calls too, so if you can’t get through here are the next steps:

  1. Call the other members of the Expenditure Review Committee:
    • Finance Minister Sen. Simon Birmingham on (02) 6277 7420
    • Deputy PM Michael McCormack, MP on (02) 6277 7520
    • Minister for Families and Social Services Sen. Anne Ruston on (02) 6277 7560
    • Minister for Health Greg Hunt, MP (02) 6277 7220
  2. Call your MP on their Parliament Office number.

Once you’ve gone through the list, start again from the top until you’ve got through to every office.

What should I say?

The most powerful thing you can do is share your story. Share your experiences or experiences of people you know about what life was like on the brutal old Newstart rate of $40 a day, and what the increased rate meant to you.

Other key points you might want to include:

  • This Christmas is going to be a really hard one for millions, with record-high unemployment and 1.8 million people projected to be on JobSeeker in December.
  • More than one million children will be impacted if the Government cuts the Coronavirus Supplement at Christmas time.
  • There is currently only one job vacancy available for every 12 people without paid work or enough paid work, with even less in regional areas.
  • This will hurt the country’s economic recovery. Retailers are bracing for a slow holiday season, following a tough year. Those on lowest incomes spend every dollar in their local economy so this cut is taking money directly out of the economic recovery.
  • Deloitte Economics projected that the September cuts to the Coronavirus Supplement would cost the national economy $31.3 billion and 145,000 jobs over the next two years and further cuts in December would only make it worse.
  • The best way to stimulate the economy and to support those hardest hit by the pandemic recession is to put in place a permanent, adequate rate of JobSeeker to give people and businesses the certainty they need to recover.
  • People struggling to find paid work are facing a deeply uncertain future because the Government has not ruled out going back to the brutal old Newstart rate of just $40 a day at Christmas time.
  • This deep uncertainty is wreaking havoc on people’s mental health and leaving them to face impossible decisions about whether they’ll be able to afford to live in their homes next year. An increased base rate will help avert the mounting homelessness, mental health and domestic violence crises.
  • To rebuild their lives, people need certainty that we will never turn back to the brutality of $40 a day. This is why we need a permanent increase to the base rate of JobSeeker that means people can cover the basics – housing, food, bills, and transport.

What are we asking for?

We need a permanent and adequate increase to JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support payments that gives people the security to rebuild their lives from this crisis. 

An increase to the base rate of JobSeeker of $185-$275 per week would allow people to cover the essentials, recognising that many people needed every dollar they were receiving when the government doubled income support. This would also bring payments to a higher level than where they currently are, as there is no question that the current payment rates are not enough. There must be additional support for people in private rental, people with disability or illness and people with family caring responsibilities.