While Andrew Bock agrees with the principle ‘the best kind of welfare is a job’, the independent candidate for Nicholls said that did not mean the system needed to squeeze pensioners or Newstart recipients onto the streets.
‘‘It’s hard enough for an aged or disability support pensioner to make ends meet in the private rental market, let alone someone on Newstart,’’ he said.
‘‘The cheapest single-bedroom house for rent in our region right now on realestate.com.au is $160 per week. Add $100 for food, $50 per week for bills, $50 for transport and $20 to put towards Christmas or birthdays and that leaves an aged or disability support pensioner with around $40 for medications, emergencies or entertainment. It’s simply not enough.
‘‘Then, if we look at Newstart you’ve got $84 left after paying rent. How you’re supposed to pay for internet to keep looking for jobs, eat, buy a new shirt for a job interview or even get to the job interview, I really don’t know.’’
Mr Bock said there were still some in the community who labelled people on Newstart as ‘dole bludgers’.
‘‘With all the hoops they have to jump through, staying on Newstart is a full-time job. Plus, when you’ve got everyone from Cassandra Goldie from the Australian Council of Social Service to former prime minister John Howard calling for a rise in the rate of Newstart, you know it’s overdue,’’ he said.
‘‘Unlike higher income earners, pensioners spend every cent they receive as there’s no point trying to save for big-ticket items. This means that any rise in payments will stimulate the economy, secure retail and hospitality jobs and hopefully put downward pressure on youth unemployment.’’