The Hon Julie Bishop MP, PO Box 6022 House of Representatives Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600

A MINISTER'S answer that she could live on the dole has been marked as "inaudible" in the official transcript from her office, despite the crystal-clear video.

From today parents will move from the parenting payment to Newstart in what federal Families Minister Jenny Macklin says is aimed at getting people back to work. About 84,000 single parents will be affected.

Rebekah Devlin of The Punch wrote on 18 OCT 2012:

"A few weeks ago I spent a week living on the dole for a feature story. I had just $150 to spend on groceries, public transport, electricity bills, mobile phone, medications, photocopying of my resume and an outfit to wear to job interviews. I had no car, no internet, no computer, no food from my pantry, no private health insurance, and no Foxtel. I had always thought the dole payment was rather generous. After all, how do all those surfies survive on it? But the current level of Newstart allowance is so grossly inadequate I was shocked.

Newstart is $246.30 per week, plus a rent assistance of $60.50 per week is available, but you have to pay at least $134.36 in rent to be eligible. I couldn’t find accommodation for less than $150. The poverty line in Australia is $474.20 a week, almost $170 more than the dole. We’ve all said “Get a job”, but it ain’t that easy.

For the long-term unemployed, you may as well be asking them to fly to the moon. How do you get experience if every employer wants you to have it BEFORE they give you a job? I went shop to shop handing out my resume. Do you have any idea how humiliating it is asking a 17-year-old at a counter if they have any work? Then her telling you they only want juniors? I’m too old at 35, what a joke. The Centrelink offices are truly depressing - you feel the hopelessness as soon as you walk in the door. People are down-rodden, beaten. Some people dress up to show they don’t really belong, others gave up that charade years ago.

What hopes did they once have for their lives? Will they ever be able to break free from the cycle of poverty? Some were made redundant and haven’t been able to find work. Others had to leave their jobs for many reasons - illness, abusive bosses, inflexible work hours. Some were sacked for no apparent reason.

The Newstart allowance is not enough to lead any kind of a quality life. You are merely existing, rather than living. Life was grey, there was no colour, no joy. I couldn’t even buy a block of chocolate or hire a DVD as a treat.

Welfare groups have called for an increase of $50 a week. It is a meal at a nice restaurant for most of us, but to someone on the dole, it is extra medications, the ability to pay their electricity bill, a visit to a specialist.

A single pensioner got a rise of $17.10 per fortnight on September 20 because it is indexed differently to Newstart, which is done against CPI. Which means dole payments rose by a pathetic $2.90 a fortnight last month - $14.20 less than what pensioners received. Pensioners get $356 a week plus a supplement of $30.30, which means they get $396.30, almost $100 more than those on Newstart with the full rent assistance. How is that even remotely fair?
Are groceries cheaper just because you’re on the dole rather than the pension? In just a week on the dole I was lonely, bored and so dreadfully isolated. I cannot imagine living like that long-term.

We all know of people who happily exist on the dole with no desire to find work. But these people are the minority and policy decisions must not be based on the few who abuse the system.

There are good people out there who would love a job, and maybe if they weren’t so focused on merely surviving they might just have more time and inclination to look for a job and undertake training. After all, it’s hard to look for work when you can’t see beyond your next meal."


Cabinet Minister, Ms Macklin earns $6,321 a week, and claims she could live on the dole.

We the undersigned call on Families Minister Jenny Macklin to prove she could live on the dole over a 1 month period.

This should be monitored by a Coalition back bencher and a DLP representative to ensure complete compliance over this period.

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The Minister Jenny Macklin, Live on the dole for 1 month petition to The Hon Julie Bishop MP, PO Box 6022 House of Representatives Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 was written by Kevin Hicks and is in the category Politics at GoPetition.