TJ Ryan Foundation Research Associate, John Quiggin, writes in The Conversation (19.1.21) about the phasing out of the federal government's pandemic income support schemes, arguing that we shouldn't go back to a Newstart payment that was recognised as inadequate long before the pandemic arrived.
'When the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia in March 2020, the Morrison government took bold and imaginative action.
'The most notable examples were its income support programs - JobKeeper, paying a A$750 weekly subsidy to employers to keep workers on the payroll, and JobSeeker, which doubled unemployment benefits relative to the Newstart allowance, frozen in real terms for nearly 30 years.
'These measures were announced as temporary. The government has already begun winding them back as the economy recovers from the worst impacts of the pandemic. On January 1 the JobSeeker supplement (being paid to about 1.3 million Australians) was cut from A$250 to A$150 a fortnight. It will cease in March.
'... In an economy that cannot provide full-time work for everyone who wants it, we need to take a broader view of the way people can contribute. To respond to the post-pandemic era, we should adopt the concept of a Liveable Income Guarantee (LIG).'