Reversal Of Cuts To Newstart Welcome But Adequacy Still Needs To Be Addressed

Leading seniors advocate COTA Australia today welcomed the agreement between the Government and Opposition to remove the cuts to Newstart and pensions from the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill.

COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates said given almost a third of Newstart recipients are 50 and over, these cuts would have a had a significant impact on many older Australians who are already under high levels of financial pressure.

“Older people, and in fact any Newstart recipient, finds it extremely difficult to get by on the current paltry Newstart allowance and any reduction to the benefit would have been a further unconscionable blow.

“While the Government and Opposition should be congratulated for reaching an agreement to keep the Energy Supplement for Newstart and pensions, there is a long way to go before Newstart in particular is anything close to a livable income.

“The sad reality is that many people over 50 who find themselves unemployed struggle to find another job – age discrimination remains a significant barrier to re-employment.

“Newstart, designed as a short term safety net, instead becomes the only long term income for older people who slide further and further into poverty before becoming eligible for the Age Pension.

“It is time the inadequacy of Newstart was taken up as an issue by all sides of government and some better support given to the most vulnerable in our society.”

COTA also welcomes the decision to deal with dental reforms separately from the Omnibus Bill.

“This will give the government the opportunity to listen to the broad range of stakeholders who oppose the proposed changes and reconsider the details of any change to the Dental Benefits Act.

“While the move towards a single national agreement with the states and territories to establish a framework for a Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme is positive, the proposed funding falls far short of guaranteeing better access and greater affordability to dental care for all those eligible.

“We look forward to further discussions with the government on this issue,” Mr Yates said.

Media contact: Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.