The Senate will inquire into Newstart and related payments after the Greens combined with Labor to refer the matter to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs.
Increasing Newstart has been a concern of local councils, with resolutions about the inadequacy of the social security benefit passed at the 2018 and 2019 National General Assembly of Local Government.
The payment has not increased in real-terms since 1994.
Australian Greens spokesperson on Family and Community Services Senator Rachel Siewert said the inquiry will assess a range of issues that interact with Newstart and other income support payments.
“It is vital that the Government pay close attention to this inquiry where we will hear from the community on what it is like to survive on Newstart,” Senator Siewert said.
“Their refusal to raise the rate is out of step with community expectations.”
The inquiry’s terms of reference include “consideration of what constitutes an acceptable standard of living in Australia, including the cost of safe and secure housing”.
Another term asks senators to consider “the impact of the current approach to setting income support payments on older unemployed workers, families, single parents, people with disability, jobseekers, students, First Nations peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living in regional and remote areas, and any others affected by the process.”
Members of the public are encouraged to make submissions before 13 September 2019.
The committee is due to release its report by 27 March 2020.