VOTE: Should Newstart payments be raised?
TWO local politicians are now defying their party line to call for Newstart payments to be raised, with Coffs Harbour MP Gurmesh Singh throwing his support behind his Federal counterpart, Pat Conaghan, in his campaign.
Nationals MP Mr Conaghan has described the current unemployment benefit of $280 a week as being "inadequate", saying more people in the Cowper electorate that receive the benefits are living below the poverty line.
He called for both sides of Parliament to begin a serious discussion on how Newstart could be raised.
"I know the timing of my call isn't popular due to the unexpected pressures on the budget due to coronavirus and bushfire recovery costs, but I have to make this a priority because Newstart recipients are living below the poverty line," Mr Conaghan said.
"Because Newstart payments are tied to inflation the unemployment benefit hasn't been increased in any real terms for about 20 years."
Should Newstart payments be raised?
This poll ended on 04 March 2020.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Mr Conaghan said he decided to make this call after meeting with a number of community groups including charity food stores, neighbourhood centres and churches throughout the Cowper electorate.
"We need to start a genuine discussion on this now, in conjuction with the other measures we have been delivering to improve job prospects for people by lowering taxes and encouraging job growth."
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh has since released a statement applauding his Nationals colleague for bringing the issue into the national spotlight.
"Let's face it - life can be tough when you're out of work and trying to cover your rent, bills and food. There's not much money left over," Mr Singh said.
"With drought, bushfires and floods hitting many local communities and livelihoods, it's likely more people are going onto welfare payments, wile local charities are also being asked for more help."
Recent unemployment statistics shows Coffs Harbour currently sits at 5.7 per cent.