National Seniors Australia demands rethink on Newstart

Did you know the largest age group on the Newstart Allowance is those between 55 and 64?

It’s just one of the reasons National Seniors Australia has been so vocal in calling for not only Newstart’s allowance rate to be raised, but to have it included in the Federal Government’s review on retirement incomes.

More than 170,000 Australians in that age group are on Newstart and spend on average four years receiving the allowance, because they are either transitioning careers, unable to find suitable work, or are experiencing ageism in the workforce.

National Seniors Chief Advocate, Ian Henschke says the Newstart payment rate and the number of older Australians retiring on the full pension are inextricably linked.

“This is all part of the retirement ecosystem, with the emphasis on ‘eco’ as in economics.”

“Older Australians struggle to find a job, struggle to make ends meet, forcing them to eat into their retirement savings, and as a result, they struggle to stay out of poverty when they do eventually retire,” he said.

Yet despite this, the Prime Minister and Treasurer are resisting calls from within their own ranks, and demands from National Seniors, to raise the Newstart rate and include it as part of the government’s retirement income review.

Mr Henschke says to have Newstart left out of the retirement review is inexplicable.

“We call on the government to include it in the review."

“It’s false economics to punish older Australians needlessly as they head towards retirement, because they will end up on a full pension after chewing up their savings and super,” Mr Henschke said.

The issue was in the news again this week when Nationals MP and former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce reiterated his call for Newstart to be raised.

He’s among at least seven Coalition MPs wanting the Prime Minister to review Newstart.

Former Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos was the first Coalition MP to break ranks in calling for an increase back on April 1 this year.

Since then, he has been joined by fellow Liberals, Russell Broadbent, Dean Smith, Andrew Wallace and The Nationals’ Matt Canavan and Barnaby Joyce, who point out a raise in Newstart would help regional areas.

Before the election, even former Prime Minister John Howard joined the chorus of those wanting the rate raised.

Outside the Coalition both the welfare sector and business sector have formed a rare alliance in also calling for an increase in the allowance.

Looking ahead

National Seniors Australia Chief Advocate Ian Henschke recently discussed the pension, Newstart and the government’s retirement policy during an interview with Sky News.

Watch here

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