Socialist Alliance candidate, Sue Bolton, has condemned the Federal Government's announcement to phase out the COVID-19 Disaster Payment once 70% and 80% vaccination targets are reached.
"The move to force recipients to re-apply weekly at 70% levels, and then stop payments altogether at 80%, risks plunging thousands of people into poverty at a precarious time," Bolton said. "As we plan to emerge out of lockdown, maintaining an adequate social safety net at liveable levels is crucial."
Bolton argued that cutting these payments so abruptly does not recognise two important realities.
"Firstly, while the $750/week rate of the Disaster Payment is inadequate in itself, it is better than the miserably-low JobSeeker rate of $320/week, which many Disaster Payment recipients will be forced on. This is simply a case of the Government shifting welfare recipients to a payment with a lower rate – saving money on the backs of the most vulnerable, rather than large corporations, many of which pocketed millions of dollars of JobKeeper money last year.
"Secondly, it is not as though recipients of the Disaster Payment will simply have their jobs reinstated once lockdowns end. Certain restrictions will remain in place, and capacity limits in particular will mean many won't be able to work, or will have hours reduced, at no fault of their own. People will still be out of work due to public health restrictions, yet will not have access to a specialised payment."
Socialist Alliance demands the maintenance of the Disaster Payment so long as people are out of work, or on reduced hours, as a result of public health restrictions. We call for all welfare payments to be lifted above the poverty line, and indexed to maintain real value.
Sue Bolton and Socialist Alliance will always stand for a fair social security system that is above poverty levels.