Most Australians think unemployment support should not revert to its pre-coronavirus rate of $40 a day once the pandemic subsides.
Essential polling shows 57 per cent of Australians think JobSeeker should not be cut to its previous amount, while 15 per cent were unsure.
The payment has been doubled to about $1100 a fortnight but the Morrison government maintains it will be slashed at the end of September.
The poll result came as Australian Bureau of Statistics data revealed almost 1 million Australians have lost their jobs since social-distancing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 ramped up.
The jump appeared to get steeper in mid-April, rather than reduce after the JobSeeker increase and the announcement of JobKeeper for workers who had kept their jobs.
“Looking at the week-to-week changes, the decrease in the number of jobs in the week ending 18 April was 1.5 per cent, which was larger than the 0.3 per cent decrease in week ending 11 April 2020,” the bureau’s head of labour statistics Bjorn Jarvis said.
Australian Council of Social Service chief Cassandra Goldie said the JobSeeker payment, which was previously known as Newstart, must remain at a level high enough for people to survive.
“It’s clear we need a permanent fix to our social safety net. Our income support system was cruel before this crisis began,” Dr Goldie said.
“We can never go back to the brutality of trying to survive on $40 a day. We need a secure safety net that protects us all from poverty.”
The government has resisted pressure, even from conservatives, to increase the usual rate of the payment.
Labor supports an increase but hasn’t been specific about how much.
Dr Goldie said reducing the rate after the coronavirus outbreak would stall recovery.
“We need a decent social security safety net in place that works at all times,” she said.
The poll of more than 1000 Australians also found most think it’s too soon to think about easing restrictions, although slightly fewer people feel this way than in prior weeks.
About 20 per cent think restrictions should be eased within the next month, a figure that has grown slightly on past weeks.
As well, 45 per cent think schools should reopen for all children, 23 per cent think learning should remain online and 32 per cent believe schools should reopen for kids of essential workers.
The majority of those polled are happy with the government’s response to the coronavirus, a sentiment that has grown as the year has progressed.
Close to half of Australians think they’re somewhat unlikely to contract coronavirus, 26 per cent think it’s somewhat likely, 23 per cent very unlikely and five per cent think it’s very likely.