I have just met with Senator Anne Ruston, the Minister for Social Services, to express my disappointment in the federal government’s decision to cut the effective rate of JobSeeker by $100 a fortnight from April 1.

Almost 7000 people in Indi today rely on JobSeeker. This is up 66 per cent since March last year.

That is 2000 additional people in my electorate alone who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic who will now be scraping by on $44 a day.

Right now on realestate.com.au, the average cost of a two-bed rental in Wodonga is $40 a day.

Even with some rental assistance, there are 2147 residents of Wodonga on JobSeeker right now who will be trying to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table, and look for work at the same time.

Parents who, for the first time, as a result of the temporary coronavirus payments, were able to put fresh fruit in their kids’ lunchboxes or offer some after school activities, will now be rethinking what they can afford.

After the government asked so much of Australians to help us get through the pandemic, it is truly disappointing the government did not embed a meaningful permanent rise in the JobSeeker rate.

When I meet with small businesses in Indi, many of them tell me they are keen to bring on more workers. But some of their biggest challenges are things like lack of affordable accommodation for workers and difficulty finding people with the right skills.

By sending the most vulnerable Australians back under the poverty line, this cut does nothing to solve these real challenges.

And we know that when we lift the rate of JobSeeker, people spend that money in local businesses. This cut will rip $1.4 million a month out of small businesses in Indi – that’s less money in the till right at the worst possible time.

Supporting the economic recovery and supporting our fellow citizens are not mutually exclusive. I call on the Government to be real about both, and rethink this cut.

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