Anne Ruston's comments on Newstart disappointing and out of touch

Linda Burney on ABC Adelaide Drive with Jules Schiller

JULES SCHILLER: I’m joined now by the Federal Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, and Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney. Welcome Minister - Shadow Minister, I should say.

LINDA BURNEY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES, MEMBER FOR BARTON: Hi Jules, how are you?

SCHILLER: Good. What are your thoughts on Anne Ruston’s alleged comments?

BURNEY: I think they are incredibly disappointing. And I also think that they show the attitude that Anne Ruston as the minister and the government has to people that are unemployed and have to rely on social security payments to survive. There is 61,000 people on Newstart in South Australia. And 20,000 of those people live in the regions. There are many aspects to this and you’ve just heard some of them. But for Minister Ruston to say these things, at a – you know,  at a single mums’ gathering, shows there is an absolute lack of understanding of what the reality is for people that live on Newstart.

SCHILLER: But in fairness, Federal Labor haven’t been in a rush to raise the rate of Newstart though, Linda?

BURNEY: No, that’s not true. We are calling very much for the rate to be raised. And prior to the election – and I was very deliberate about this and very careful – we were going to have a review into working age payments to see how they intersected. And you don’t have a review to lower the rate. Now, you know, the issue for the government is the attacks that they are undertaking on people that are unemployed. And let’s remember that one in four Newstart recipients are over the age of 55 or 55, and for many of them, they have been retrenched, and now they’re going to face the horror of the changes that this government is making into the liquid assets test. 

SCHILLER: Linda Burney, the Greens suggested an increase of $75 a week, which Federal Labor didn’t support. How much do you think Newstart should rise by?

BURNEY: I am not going to put a number on it. And I have refused to do that steadfastly. What we do understand absolutely: that the rate of Newstart is in fact not helping people get into a job. It’s an inhibitor because it doesn’t provide enough money for people to get the outfit or get the bus to the employment agency, and some of the compliance issues around receiving unemployment need to be thought about as well.

SCHILLER: But why wait until the – sort of cusp of the next election? Why not announce your policy early?

BURNEY: We have announced our policy and Jim Chalmers has been very clear on it. He’s the Shadow Treasurer, as has our leader Anthony Albanese, as have I as the responsible minister …

SCHILLER: … I mean the amount for you – the amount you’d like to see it rise by, I mean.

BURNEY: … because that would be I think fiscally irresponsible and the amount would need to be determined closer to the election, given the fast changing nature of the economics in Australia. I can say incredibly clearly to you and to people who are living on Newstart, this notion of somehow or rather, the assumption that if you’re on Newstart , then you must be a drug addict or a drunk is absolutely unacceptable.

SCHILLER: Linda Burney, federal Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, and Indigenous Australians, thank you for your time this afternoon.

BURNEY: Thanks Jules.

TRANSCRIPT - THURSDAY, 3 OCTOBER 2019

video Block
Double-click here to add a video by URL or embed code. Learn more