Jenny Macklin has been criticised for stating the obvious – that she could survive on the Newstart allowance. Apparently this was an outrageous comment – even her office tried to extinguish it.
For the billions of people who live on less than the Newstart allowance, it would seem a King’s ransom. For the billions of people who have died, it is a King’s ransom.
Sure, I wouldn’t like to live on the Newstart allowance, nor would Jenny Macklin. But that’s not the point. All of the 330,000 people receiving Newstart are able to survive on it, otherwise they would have moved to the local cemetery. There are an estimated 182,000 long-term Newstart recipients – surely they are surviving on Newstart, or are we now paying Newstart to dead people?
Macklin should have expanded on her comment. Yes, she could survive on Newstart. No, she wouldn’t like to live on Newstart, but her ambition was to have Newstart recipients move into jobs and to enjoy higher living standards.
When the ABC conducted a poll to ask whether Newstart should be increased it asked the wrong question. It should have been: how much would you be willing to pay to increase the Newstart allowance:
Option 1: I want a tax cut – reduce the Newstart allowance
Option 2: Leave it as it is
Option 3: I would be willing to pay an additional $100 per annum to increase Newstart
Option 4: I would be willing to pay an additional $1000 per annum ….
If people want to increase Newstart, a voluntary tax would provide the means. As for me, I’m happy to cut Newstart by 25 per cent, provided labour market regulations are liberalised so as to provide employment opportunities.