JobSeeker increase ‘not enough’

By Jessica Micallef

About 700 Kyneton and Woodend locals on JobSeeker payments will be worse off even with a permanent $25 per week increase, according to Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters.

The JobSeeker payment was increased from $282 to $557 per week during the COVID-19 pandemic, before being gradually decreased.

Currently people on the JobSeeker payment are receiving a $150 coronavirus supplement but the payment is due to end at the end of this month.

Last month, the federal government announced a $25 per week increase to the JobSeeker payment, taking the payment to $307 per week from April 1.

Job seekers will also be required to apply for at least 15 jobs per month from April 1 and 20 jobs per month from early July.

Bendigo MP Lisa Chesters said while the increase was welcomed, it was not enough.

“Scott Morrison’s announcement equates to an extra $3.57 a day. That doesn’t even cover a cup of coffee,” she said.

“This increase will not even pay for parking whilst you are at a job interview or put petrol in the car to get to a job interview.”

Ms Chesters said there weren’t enough advertised jobs to accommodate for the 15 job applications job seekers were required to apply for.

“There just aren’t the jobs,” she said.

“Currently there are eight job seekers for every advertised job.”

Ms Chesters said nearly 10,000 residents in the Bendigo electorate were relying on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments.

“About 700 of those are in Kyneton and Woodend,” she said.

“I have spoken to many locals trying to get by on the payment. They are trying to cover the basics like paying the bills and keeping a roof over their heads.

“This small amount just won’t cut it. At the end of the day even with this base rate rise, they will still be $50 a week worse off when the supplement ends next month.

“Local families should be able to live with dignity.”