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ACOSS welcomes bills to reduce poverty and inequality

The Australian Council of Social Service has welcomed the social security commission bill and single parent review

Two private social security commission bills have been introduced to parliament with the aim of reducing poverty and inequality across Australia.

Albury Independent Senator, Cathy McGowan, introduced a bill for a social security commission as Tamworth Independent Senator, Andrew Wilkie, introduced a bill to review the impact of removing the Parenting Payment Single from single parents.

CEO of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Dr Cassandra Goldie, said the organisation welcomed the private member bills.

“We warmly welcome Cathy McGowan’s bill to establish an independent social security commission, a policy that ACOSS has long called for.

“This commission would guide the parliament on the rates of income support payments, helping to ensure that payments are adequate and that indexation settings are right. Such a body has broad support amongst the community sector, which sees every day the impact of inadequate social security payments.”

Goldie added that Newstart and Youth Allowance are indexed to the consumer price index (CPI) only and, as a result, do not cover the costs of essentials. Newstart is now $75 per week less than the pension and has not increased above CPI in 24 years.

“This is why people, including 110,000 single parents ineligible for Parenting Payment Single, struggling to keep the lights on and put food on the table,” Goldie said.

ACOSS has also welcomed Wilkie’s bill to review the impact of the cut to single parents’ incomes when their youngest child turns eight and is moved onto Newstart.

“This review will hopefully shed some light on the terrible effect of drastically cutting single parents’ income. Child poverty increased by around two percentage points in the ten years to 2013-14, and a succession of family payment cuts is only making it harder for single parents to feed their children and give them the best start in life.”

ACOSS has called for Newstart, Youth Allowance and related payments to immediately be increased by $75 per week and indexed to wages to help vulnerable people.

A social security commission would guide the parliament on the next steps for these payments to ensure that they do not fall behind again.

“We congratulate Ms McGowan and Mr Wilkie for putting up these bills, which aim to reduce poverty and inequality in Australia and acknowledge and welcome the support of Centre Alliance’s Rebekha Sharkie who has backed both.”

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