Pauline Hanson has joined a growing chorus of calls to boost welfare payments for unemployed Australians.
The One Nation leader is the latest in a long line of influential MPs demanding a boost to the Newstart rate.
“There’s a talk about $75 a week that [it] needs to be raised,” she said in Canberra on Monday.
“I think that needs to be addressed and it also needs to be costed. Can we afford it? That’s another thing too.”
Senator Hanson has stressed people over 50 can struggle to get jobs.
“We need to look after those people, that they can afford to actually live reasonably well.”
Last week, The New Daily revealed that over-55s make up the largest single group of Australians on Newstart.
As a group, they are likely to spend much longer on Newstart because they struggle to find full-time work again. In fact, some never do.
Senator Hanson also accused both major political parties of caring more about pay rises for government department bosses than helping job-seekers live reasonably well.
“Scott Morrison, plus all the Liberal and Labor Party, they’re more interested in giving these heads of departments pay rises, and some of them are getting pay rises of up to $25,000 a year,” she said.
“They’re quite happy to make sure that they’re on these pay packets of $600,000 to 800,000 a year. I think it’s disgusting.”
Economists, business and social services groups have long called for a boost to Newstart, which hasn’t increased beyond inflation since the mid-1990s.
Some Coalition figures have also joined the push. Last week, Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce was among them, declaring it was a “hard life” on the dole and calling for Newstart to be boosted in regional areas.
On Monday, Liberal senator Dean Smith became the latest to back the idea, calling for “not just a review but an increase” to Newstart.
The payment is $555.70 a fortnight for a single person without children, leaving job-seekers with about $40 a day.
Reports have shown increasing the rate by $75 a week would create jobs and boost consumer spending, which has been weakening since last year.
But, despite the growing weight of calls, Prime Minister Scott Morrison maintains the government is focused on getting more people into jobs.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has stressed the payment is “transitional”.
“Most Australians who are on Newstart allowance are on that payment for a very short period,” he told ABC Radio National.
“We are focused on getting Australians into work. We are focused on making sure that Australians are on Newstart allowance for as brief a period as possible.”
Department of social services data provided to The Australian shows the average time people receive Newstart is 156 weeks, or three years.
The discussion comes as job-seekers in two states are trialling an updated online Jobactive platform as part of the biggest overhaul of the unemployment sector in two decades.
The Coalition wants the new online platform to make the unemployment system easier for everyone to use.
A scathing report last year found Jobactive was out-dated, not fit for purpose and was “causing pain for some job seekers and employers”.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the savings from moving Jobactive online would be reinvested in targeted face-to-face services for people who need extra help.
The new platform will be trialled in Adelaide and the NSW mid-North Coast until 2022, when it will be rolled out nationally.