AS from January 1, 2013, the Gillard government cancelled the supporting parents benefit supporting 80,000 Australians - mostly women - and put them on the Newstart allowance.
This was an economic decision but we were told otherwise. It received almost unilateral condemnation but the government was having none of it. This decision runs contrary to all that the ALP once stood for - compassion and care of the underprivileged.
The Greens Senator from Western Australia, Rachel Siewert, is introducing a bill into the Senate in February, proposing an immediate increase to the Newstart of $50 per week and to fund the increases by raising the Mining Tax. Why do this?
Unlike the age and disability pensions, the Newstart allowance is not indexed and has fallen behind cost of living increases - hence the Jenny Macklin controversy.
The Greens bill makes good sense - for one, the price of iron ore is back up at super high levels and the mining sector can and should contribute to the common wealth.
Gillard and Swan should not have folded on the original Rudd proposal.