Australian Government Announces Largest Rise to Welfare Payments in Decades
The Australian government will raise support payments for over 4.7 million welfare receivers around the country in an effort to alleviate increasing living cost pressures.
Federal Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said in a statement that the government would introduce an indexation increase to welfare payments starting from Sep. 20.
She also stated that the rise would be the most significant for allowance in more than 30 years and 12 years for pensions.
“We want to ensure Australia has a strong social security safety net to protect our most disadvantaged,” she said.
“Our guiding principles as a government are ensuring no one is left behind, and no one is held back … This indexation increase will help those on government payments keep up with the cost of living.”
People dine out in Melbourne’s Lygon Street cafe and restaurant strip in Melbourne, Australia, on June 11, 2021.
Among the changes, Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, and Carer Payment will go up by $38.90 (around US$26) per fortnight for singles and $58.80 for couples.
At the same time, the maximum pension rates will rise to $1026.50 per fortnight for singles and $1547.60 for couples.
The beneficiaries of programs such as JobSeeker, Parenting Payment, ABSTUDY (a type of government support for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students or apprentices) and Rent Assistance will also receive a pay rise.
While JobSeeker payments for singles without children will climb by $25.70 per fortnight to $677.20, Parenting payments for singles will go up by $35.20 to $927.40 per fortnight.
Additionally, support payments for partners of the two types of welfare receivers will also rise by $23.40 per fortnight to $616.60.
Rishworth said the changes in pension rates were driven by the increases in the Consumer Price Index, which surpassed those of the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index.
Government To Review JobSeeker Payments in 2023
When facing criticism that the increases were not high enough, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said the government would review JobSeeker payments in May 2023.
“Australians are going to be significantly better off as a consequence of this, but there’s a lot more work to do, and that’s why we’re here in Canberra,” she told the ABC.
“We’re trying to bring the political parties and groups of Australians together so we can try to move some of the big issues in our country forward, and certainly that issue around JobSeeker payments is one of them.”
Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said living cost pressures would increase when the government reinstated the full fuel tax excise at the end of September.
“Real pressures are going on people, and unless you want them in poverty, they need to be supported,” he told Seven News.
The rise in pension rates came after the federal government announced that age and veteran pensioners would be able to earn an extra $4,000 in the 2022-2023 financial year in an attempt to boost the labour supply.
The temporary credit will allow pensioners to earn up to $11,800 in this financial year without losing any of their pension and will last until June 30, 2023.