Scott Morrison has slammed the “unfunded empathy” of the Labor Party on lifting the Newstart rate after a day dominated by Barnaby Joyce’s own new compassion for dole recipients.
Mr Joyce, a father of six with a new partner, two babies and an ex-wife and four daughters, has revealed he’s “counting every dollar” himself despite earning $211,000 a year.
But in Parliament, the Prime Minister turned his attack on to Labor’s post-election support for raising the rate of Newstart.
“The best form of welfare is a job, that’s what those on this side of the House believe and I believe Australians believe and I want to commend all those Australians who are on Newstart and looking for a job,” he said.
“But what I tell you what I won’t do…when it comes to Newstart in this place I will not engage in the unfunded empathy of the Labor Party. I will not go out as the Labor Party did at the last election pretending they’re going to do something about Newstart but they won’t tell Australians how much they’re going to increase it by, how much is that going to cost and how are they going to pay for it. I won’t do that.”
Mr Morrison noted that at the last election “the Labor Party came up with $387 billion of higher taxes and they still didn’t come up with – up with a way to increase – fund an increase in the Newstart allowance”
The Prime Minister also claimed that, while Newstart is $555 a fortnight for a single person with no children, on average the rate was substantially higher when supplements, including for those with children, are considered.
“On average, an additional $153.50 is paid a fortnight to recipients and some 99 percent I am advised receive payments over and above Newstart,” he said.
Earlier, Joyce has sparked ridicule after revealing he’s doing it tough and turning off his heater at night supporting two wives on his generous salary.
The father-of-six revealed he’s butchering his own meat and looking for bargains on his six-figure salary because he’s supporting his current partner Vikki Campion and his two baby sons and his ex-wife Natalie Joyce and his four daughters.
Mr Joyce sparked a national controversy when he left his wife for his former press secretary, prompting Malcolm Turnbull to announce a “bonking ban” for politicians and staff.
The former deputy prime minister stressed that he knew a lot of other families are doing it tougher but said his self-induced thrift had made him more sympathetic to the plight of Newstart recipients surviving on $40 a day.
“It’s not that I’m not getting money, it’s just that it’s spread so thin,” he told The Courier-Mail on Monday.
“It’s just a great exercise in humility, going from deputy prime minister to watching every dollar you get.”
Digging up, I see https://t.co/Q2EPzsMlMy
— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) July 28, 2019
But critics have already pointed out Mr Joyce gets closer to $280,000 when electorate allowances and car allowances are taken into account.
Mr Joyce revealed a daily cup of coffee is his big treat.
“So the big thrill of the day to be honest is a cup of coffee. We rarely if ever go out for dinner.”
“I am working out – on a very, very good salary – how you make two ends (meet) when you’re supporting basically two families,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program.
“God knows how someone on $280 a week ever gets by; I don’t know how they do it. It would be near impossible.”
One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson said Mr Joyce’s complaints were a joke.
“He feels skint? Where are the tissues, my god?” the One Nation leader told the Nine Network.
“What a ridiculous, stupid way to explain himself and he is saying (about the) Newstart allowance, people need a helping hand, which I’ve been saying for some time now.
“It shouldn’t be a way of life but people cannot get those jobs, they cannot get that extra employment that they need. They need to be able to pay for their rent. They need to be able to put food on the table.”
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) July 28, 2019
Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon said he was just glad that Mr Joyce was calling for compassion for people on the dole.
“Whatever the cause of Barnaby’s epiphany, it is really good he has now acknowledged that after six years under this government, people are doing it very, very tough,” he said.
The Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union spokesman @JeremyPoxon has welcomed Barnaby Joyce to “the resistance” after the former Deputy Prime minister called for an increase in the Newstart allowance.https://t.co/MhTDzJQXXO
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) July 29, 2019
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said he did not propose to offer commentary on Mr Joyce’s commentary.
The debate follows ACOSS’ release of a new report today revealing a majority of Newstart recipients are skipping meals to survive.