Bill Shorten: Commit to Raise Newstart to the Poverty Line

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Unemployed Australians deserve to be able to afford the basics.

Today, this is not happening. Australia's unemployment benefit - known as the Newstart Allowance - is $355 per fortnight below the poverty line according to the Melbourne Institute, making Australia's unemployment benefit one of the lowest unemployment benefits in the developed world.

For 24 years, politicians on both sides of politics have refused to increase Newstart in real terms. Now we are at crisis point.

According to a recent Anglicare study, not one property across Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide, Darwin or Perth was affordable to someone on Newstart.

This is a national disgrace.

Where are unemployed Australians meant to live?

While the government suggests that this low rate of Newstart is necessary to create incentives for people to work, this is not true.

According to both the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Department of Employment, there are currently 2.87 million people competing for only 178,600 job vacancies – resulting in a record high ratio of 16 job seekers per job vacancy.

Exactly how are the unemployed meant to find work in this situation?

Mr. Shorten, as the leader of the Australian Labor Party, you must take a stand against this injustice.

You must fight for the right of unemployed Australians to afford the basics and to live out of extreme poverty.

You must commit to raising Newstart to the Henderson Poverty Line.