Barnaby Joyce Says Money Is Tight While Supporting Two Families
The former deputy prime minister claims he has to butcher his own sheep, leave the heater off on cold nights, buy cheap groceries and fix things himself if they break down, just to stay afloat.
Barnaby Joyce, who now has six children, makes $211,000 a year but the New England MP said that by months end he barely has any cash left.
“I’m not crying in my beer because there are thousands, thousands doing it much tougher than me,’’ he told The Courier Mail. “It’s not that I’m not getting money it’s just that it’s spread so thin.”
Joyce explained that he was living in a duplex without a dishwasher for $415 a week and that a hot cup of coffee is now his only treat because it's all he can afford.
He said that he was not seeking sympathy from the public but amitted his living situation had made him more attuned to the struggles of low-income earners.
The admission comes as the former Nationals leader pushes his Coalition colleagues to support an increase in the Newstart payment, which hasn't been raised above inflation since the mid-1990s.
Individuals with no dependent children receive $282 a week -- or $40 a day --on Newstart.
Joyce explained that if he had to count his pennies while earning $211,000 each year, he couldn't imagine how a person on Newstart would survive.
"I'm not skint, I'm far from skint, I'm on a very very good wage but of course circumstances of my own fault means it's spread thin and I'm trying to work out how to make ends meet when [I'm] supporting basically two families," he told Sunrise on Monday morning.
"God knows how someone on $280 week gets by, it'd be near impossible."
He is among a number of politicians, business and welfare groups, unions and economists pushing to increase the benefit by at least $75 a week.
The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) is also among that supporter group and on Monday released bleak findings in a survey of Newstart recipients.
Of the 489 people surveyed, 84 percent skipped meals to save money and 44 percent went without more than five meals each week.
Two-thirds couldn't afford heating, even on the coolest of days, while 68 percent only had enough spare change to buy second-hand clothes.
"Our survey shows people can’t afford rent, food, energy, clothing, transport, haircuts, dental care or internet access, which severely hampers their chances of getting a job, especially as there is only one job available for every eight people looking," ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said on Monday.
“An urgent increase of $75 a week is the absolute minimum we need after 25 years without a real increase," she continued.
Scott Morrison argued earlier this month that 99 percent of Newstart recipients also receive an additional payment such as rent assistance or the energy supplement.
He also confirmed that Newstart was meant to be a short term support between jobs, not a long term solution.
Labor and the Greens joined forces last week to initiate a Senate inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart and other welfare payments, which is due to report back next year.