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Greens wants Macklin to live on Newstart for a week

Families Minister Jenny Macklin
Families Minister Jenny Macklin Jen Tybell

ACTING Greens leader Adam Bandt has challenged Families Minister Jenny Macklin to live on the $35-a-day Newstart Allowance for a week.

Mr Bandt's challenge followed a news conference where Ms Macklin told reporters she could live on the allowance.

But in an official transcript sent out by Ms Macklin's political staff, the question and answer was replaced with the word "inaudible".

Ms Macklin spoke to reporters to promote the Federal Government's new father parenting payment, but was also asked about changes to Newstart.

One such change was to cut payments by up to $110 a week to parents when their children turn eight.

The cut, Ms Macklin said, was to counteract a Howard government change made six years ago.

But she could not tell reporters why such a change was not made earlier in her five-year tenure as Families Minister.

No response to those questions was forthcoming from the Minister's office yesterday (Wed).

While most other government front-benchers kept out of sight yesterday, Housing Minister Brendan O'Connor made on appearance on Sky News.

Mr O'Connor said it would be very difficult to live on the Newstart Allowance, labelling Mr Bandt's proposal a stunt.

Head of the Australian Council of Social Services Cassandra Goldie told reporters it was immaterial whether Ms Macklin actually tried to live on the allowance for a week.

Ms Goldie said she believed it was more important that Ms Macklin deliver a $50-increase to the allowance rather than cutting more people off.

Such an increase has wide-spread support outside of the government including numerous social services groups, the Business Council of Australia, the OECD and former Treasury secretary Ken Henry.

And despite the findings of three separate parliamentary inquiries recommending an increase to the allowance, the government was unlikely to increase the rate.

Ms Macklin has previously said her priorities were about getting more people into jobs, rather than raising unemployment benefits.

Topics:  comment, dole, editors picks, jenny macklin, newstart allowance, press conference



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