Wednesday, August 29, 2012
MPs challenged to try living on $35 a day
LABOR MPs have been challenged to spend a week living on just $35 a day, after ruling out an immediate increase to the Newstart Allowance.
As a government inquiry heard overwhelming evidence that Australia's unemployment benefit was not enough to survive on, Labor held the line on its unwillingness to boost the payment.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert who earlier this year tried living on the allowance said Labor's MPs should make an attempt to live on the meagre payment before writing off its increase.
It comes a day after Employment Minister Bill Shorten, ruling out an increase, told ABC 24 he found it hard to "make ends meet" on his current salary of about $330,000.
Mr Shorten said yesterday he was trying to make the point that it would be extremely difficult to live off $249 a week: "I think that the Newstart allowance is very low and it would be very difficult for anyone to make ends meet," he said.
When asked if he would try living on Newstart, Treasurer Wayne Swan's office pointed News Ltd to a YouTube video from 2011 where Mr Swan spent just one day day participating in the Live Below the Line campaign.
In the video, Mr Swan said poverty was "intolerable", and pointed out the fact he'd been forced to give up his morning coffee for the campaign.