MEDIA STATEMENT

The Government’s decision to cut the rate of JobSeeker by $100 a fortnight risks driving over 7300 people in Indi into financial hardship, said Helen Haines MP.

The Prime Minister yesterday announced that from 1st January 2021, the rate of JobSeeker will be cut by $100 a fortnight. The rate is currently scheduled to be cut again at the end of March.

The Independent Federal Member for Indi today issued data showing the cuts would take over $1.5 million a month out of the pockets of people in Indi.

“The latest data shows there are 7347 people on JobSeeker in Indi. We know that when the JobSeeker rate was raised, people used that extra money on essentials like food, medical appointments and home repairs. This cut will be a harsh blow for so many”.

Haines’ update uses data from the Department of Social Services which shows an extra 3000 people in Indi have been forced onto JobSeeker since March, a jump of 68% from pre-pandemic levels.

The hardest hit towns are Bright and Mt Beauty with a 203% increase, Kinglake with a 136% increase and Mansfield with a 121% increase.

“It’s pretty clear that those communities most reliant on tourism have borne the brunt of the recession. These people are out of work, not because they don’t want to work, but because the pandemic shut down their industries. It’s unconscionable to set them back further by cutting the JobSeeker rate just after Christmas”.

Earlier this week, Haines also published a survey of 1200 Indi residents that showed 71% believe the rate of JobSeeker should not be cut.

“Dozens of people responded to my survey saying that the increase in the JobSeeker rate had allowed them to pay bills, get medical care for their kids, and buy proper food for the first time in years”.

Haines reiterated her call for the Government to commit to a permanent increase in the JobSeeker rate.

“We are a wealthy country full of decent people, and it would be beneath us as people to cut the JobSeeker rate back to the old level $40 a day”.

“And a time when we need people to spend money locally, giving a small boost to the thousands of locals who have found themselves out of work through no fault of their own is just smart economics”.

“These cuts mean that $1.5 million less will be spent with local shops, hairdressers and tradies. Right at the time when we need people to be spending locally, this is another hit for our small businesses”.

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