PAE Council Deputation to continue supporting ‘Raise the Rate’ Increasing the Newstart Payment
Tuesday 13th August 2019
WHERE WE HAVE BEEN
Firstly I would like to say how proud I am to be a resident of PAE Council, the first council in Australia to come on board in August 2017 to publicly support a raise to Newstart. I was one of many residents who wrote to Council Members at that time to give some personal insight into what life is like trying to survive on less than $40 a day. Thank you to those members who supported the motion to raise Newstart.
Since this time, there have been 33 Councils joining the campaign to support a raise to Newstart. 18 of these are in SthAustralia and 16 spread across other states of Australia. The national campaign has certainly picked up in momentum. And to think that this started in ‘Lil Ol Adelaide, with the grass roots organisation, The Anti-Poverty Network of SA. Another thing to be extremely proud of.
Both the Anti-Poverty Network and the SA branch of The Unemployed Workers Union lobbied and campaigned hard leading up to this year’s Federal Election.
Events that I myself have been involved in have included:
- being vocal outside of the recording of the ABC Q&A show. Rugging up against the cold night air, outside The Shedley Theatre at Elizabeth and hoping Bill Shorten would hear our message to Raise Newstart.
- Being part of the 60 member Newstart Choir that sang outside the Convention Centre at the Federal Labor Conference last December. (Rehearsals took place right here in Pt Adelaide at the Waterside Workers Hall.)
- Writing to and meeting with local politicians as well as putting in a personal submission to the State Enquiry into Poverty and making a personal statement at the Enquiry.
Oh and I can’t forget the media appearances on the ABC’s 7.30 Report both last year and a follow up just recently. If you haven’t seen them google ‘Newstart Island’ or look on the ABC website 7.30 Report.
Here we are now more than half way through 2019. Newstart is STILL less than $40 a day, yet in the time since PAEC supported a raise to Newstart, groceries have continued to increase in cost along with other essential services such as electricity, water rates, fuel, vehicle registration, bus fares and so on.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
We have had the Federal Election and we all know who got in. I personally felt quite deflated when I heard that the Libs had got in. I thought ‘we’ (all of us campaigning for a raise) would have absolutely no chance of even having our voices heard. That we would just slink away until the next election.
The APN’s original coordinator, Pas Forgione, secured employment interstate with ACOSS as their campaign manager for the Raise the Rate campaign.
Pas has been busy all over the country, encouraging organisations such as APNs in other states to keep the pressure up on our current government as well as meeting with Associations that carry some hefty weight and influence.
Two of these are the Country Women’s Association and the Australian Medical Association. If it hadn’t been for Pas coming to Adelaide a few weeks ago to meet with interested parties I wouldn’t be here tonight giving this deputation.
I am absolutely amazed to see almost daily now in news bulletins, how the Raise the Rate Campaign has not only grown in momentum, but how the Australian people’s view on the unemployed is changing. After the Federal Election, there is no way I could have imagined Sunrise presenters having to apologise for the way they spoke in derogatory terms in reference to unemployed people.
To see mostly empathic and understanding comments made by viewers after I have appeared on the ABC’s 7.30 Report is humbling
HOW CAN COUNCIL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT THE CAMPAIGN? (Real tangible support.)
As mentioned the Country Women’s Association is one group who have given their support to the campaign. Recently Thea Taylor & I met with Helen Joraslafsky from the SA Branch of the CWA to discuss how they can further support the campaign. What we are now seeking is almost like physical, visible support. (We are hoping to have a presence at their sites at the upcoming Royal Show)
So PAE Council has given its support by stating that Newstart needs to be raised.
We need Council to keep on advocating on our behalf.
Port Adelaide Enfield Council can continue to be a strong voice for residents who are struggling to get by, by doing the following:
- Write to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and Social Services Minister and South Australian Senator Anne Ruston.
- Make public statements calling for Newstart to be raised, especially during important periods like Anti-Poverty Week (13-19 October) or around federal budget time.
- Make a submission to the Senate inquiry into Newstart (submissions due 13 September).
- Display fact sheets, fliers, and other campaign materials in council facilities.
- Hold a community event for Anti-Poverty Week. It may be possible to partner with local organisations that are participating in the campaign.
- Encourage local and regional businesses and their representative organisations to support the campaign.
- Have an article in Pen 2 Paper. (Particularly if it comes out before our Conference during Anti-Poverty week in October.)
- Individual Councillors putting something in their local newsletters that go out to residents in their Wards (I sometimes deliver these)
- Individual Councillors speaking with local residents (who receive a Newstart payment) in their Wards about what an extra $100 a week would mean for them.
These last two suggestions actually work both ways for Councillors and The Anti-Poverty Network. By showing individual support will let local residents know about our campaign and The Anti-Poverty Network and hopefully get a few more people involved.
These are suggestions that I hope will be discussed at your next meeting and to have motions passed that continue to tangibly support the Campaign to Raise The Rate.
I would like to thank the Port Adelaide Council for allowing me to speak this evening.
I am happy to answer any questions members may have for myself, or to make myself available for any publications that Councillors may wish to involve me in should they choose to act on those suggestions.