The Deputy PM Reckons We Don’t Need To Raise Newstart Because People Can “Move To The Next Town”

"There are jobs out there in regional Australia," he said while discussing the devastating drought.

michael mccormack newstart

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Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has weighed in with his take on raising Newstart, and it was about as empathetic as you’d expect. As it turns out, McCormack doesn’t think there’s any need to raise Newstart, because people can simply “move to the next town” and immediately find a job.

“There are jobs out there in regional Australia, and there are good-paying jobs, and what I think we do need in this country is a more mobile workforce,” McCormack said on Sky News this morning while discussing the drought currently devastating many regional areas.

“People have to be prepared to move sometimes out of their comfort zone and their hometown and move to the next town to take a job.”

In McCormack’s view, Newstart is a “meagre” but perfectly adequate payment to tide people over until they do manage to uproot their entire lives and move in search of said jobs. Someone should probably let him know that Newstart works out at around $17 a day after housing costs. Someone should also probably tell him that as a federal MP, his daily travel allowance is more than an entire week of Newstart payments.

See, people like McCormack keep insisting that Newstart is a “safety net measure, it is not meant to be a living wage”. In reality, it’s neither, and it’s about time we got real about that.

McCormack’s comments today follow the news that even his predecessor Barnaby Joyce is now calling for Newstart to be raised, acknowledging that “certainly $555 or thereabouts a fortnight is difficult, especially in regional areas. Especially if your rent’s $250 a week, well, you’re not really going to get by.”

“It’s just the very nature of being poor. It’s more expensive to live — things go wrong, they need to be fixed, cars break down because they’re old, the heater you buy is the inefficient one,” Joyce added. Given that just two years ago Joyce himself was busy telling people to simply move to the country to solve their financial woes, the fact that he’s now on board says something.

McCormack’s comments also follow Greens senator Larissa Waters’ moving, compassionate speech in Parliament yesterday, where she pointed out that people relying on Newstart are real people living in crisis because they don’t have enough money to meet their basic needs.

Michael McCormack either hasn’t seen that speech or well and truly doesn’t give a shit. “That’s why I encourage people who have either slipped through the cracks, or they just can’t find work at the moment, to look around,” he told Sky News. Maybe he should be the one looking around.

You can watch McCormack’s full comments below.