An increase of JobSeeker payments by $50 per fortnight is not enough and "traps people in poverty", according to Member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters.
Prime minister Scott Morrison announced the change, along with a number of others for the JobSeeker program, yesterday as part of a $9 billion federal government commitment.
She said the increase of $50 per fortnight was just $3.57 per day.
"It is not much of an improvement," she said. "If you're someone looking for work, $3.57 wont pay for parking for a job interview, or for the fuel to get to and from that interview.
"(The small increase) traps people in poverty. Labor will support any increase to JobSeeker but it is disappointing the government didn't use the increase as an opportunity to lift payments to a liveable level.
Along with the $50 per fortnight increase, income-free earnings will rise to $150 per fortnight for JobSeeker and Youth Allowance payments from April 1.
Ms Chesters said the COVID-19 supplement of $150 per fortnight currently included the JobSeeker program raised the payments enough for people.
"Families, individuals and groups have been telling us that's where they saw clients starting to live with dignity," she said.
"If the COVID supplement ends, what replaces it is the small increase to the base rate of JobSeeker.
Mr Morrison said social welfare is a safety net, not a wage supplement.
"We want to get the balance right between providing support for people and incentives to work," Mr Morrison said.
"The actions we have taken this year successfully cushioned us against the impact of the pandemic and mean that we no longer need to rely on the emergency supports which have sustained us over the past 12 months."
Along with the increase to the welfare payments, JobSeekers will now face stricter obligations to ensure they remain eligible for the program.
They include searching for a minimum of 15 jobs a month from early April and an employer reporting line to refer Jobseekers who decline the offer of a job.
"We know that most job seekers are doing the right thing and trying to find employment, however, a small minority are actively trying to game the system," Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business Michaelia Cash said.
Ms Chesters said there could be a number of reasons people can't accept a job and that the reporting line put unfair pressure on employers to police JobSeekers.
"It's not fair on employers or job seekers and it is the wrong way to go about supporting people looking for meaningful work," she said.
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