Labor Has Finally Committed To Raising Newstart
The meagre rate of the unemployment allowance is likely to come under parliamentary scrutiny as more government MPs back a boost.
Labor will push for parliamentary scrutiny of the rate of Newstart after it resolved to keep up a campaign to get the unemployment payment increased.
The opposition has formally decided to call on the government to review and increase the rate of Newstart, and will push for a Senate committee to examine the welfare payment.
But the party still hasn't nominated a set dollar amount it would like to see the payment increase by.
Instead, it has resolved to land on a final figure closer to the next election, when it better understands the economic circumstances.
Labor will oppose a Greens bill before the Senate to lift the rate by $75 a week on the basis it doesn't want to set the dollar amount yet.
The caucus decision comes as Liberal backbenchers Russell Broadbent and Dean Smith have both broken ranks, saying the Newstart rate is too low.
A majority of the Nationals party room -- including Barnaby Joyce, who showed his hand publicly last week -- also reportedly support an increase.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson believes the $40-a-day payment is too low, while Nationals frontbencher Matt Canavan and Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos have also backed calls to boost Newstart.
This puts them at odds with the government's position.
Greens community services spokeswoman Rachel Siewert said it was critical that the rate be lifted.
"When very conservative people recognise that Newstart needs to be increased you'd think that the government would also recognise that Newstart needs to be increased," she told reporters on Tuesday.
At the moment, Newstart is $277 a week for singles, or about $40 a day and roughly two-thirds of the amount deemed to be the poverty line in Australia.
The coalition insists the payment is a temporary backstop, most recipients receive top-ups, and it's busy creating jobs for people to move into.
"What they're telling me is they want a job. They're keen to get off Newstart, they're keen to get into employment," Youth Minister Richard Colbeck told reporters.
"Our record is good in respect of delivery of jobs ... that's where we'll be focusing, on keeping the economy in the strong shape so that we can continue to create jobs so young kids can get off Newstart."
Nationals leader Michael McCormack people needed to be willing to leave their home towns in search of jobs.
"A job, any job will be better than none at all and it will be better than living on welfare," he told Sky News.
"Certainly with Newstart, it is that safety net measure. It is not meant to be a living wage."
Three-quarters of people have been on Newstart for 12 months or longer, with the average person spending three years on the dole.