FEDERAL Labor member for Bendigo Lisa Chesters has called out the Labor party's decision to backflip on a promise to review the national JobSeeker rate.
Ahead of the 2019 election Labor pledged an independent review into the welfare payment, with a view to raising the rate.
However, in a social services conference on Tuesday, Labor frontbencher and shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh said the party was dumping plans for the review.
The JobSeeker rate was raised by $50 in February last year, just before JobKeeper was due to end in March 2021.
While the opposition did not oppose the raise, Labor senators did back a Greens motion calling for last-minute increase to the raise to ensure it sat above the poverty line.
At the time, Bendigo Labor member Lisa Chesters said the raise continued to "trap people in poverty".
"It is not much of an improvement," she said in 2021.
"If you're someone looking for work, $3.57 won't pay for parking for a job interview, or for the fuel to get to and from that interview."
The rate for a single person will now remain below the poverty line at $642.70 a fortnight - regardless of the outcome of the federal election.
Ms Chesters said she stands by her comments last year, arguing "everyone should be able to afford the basics".
"I personally agree the current JobSeeker base rate is too low," she said.
"This isn't new and I've been vocal on this issue in the past, and will continue to be in the future."
"What we've said is we don't have a plan to increase the Jobseeker allowance in our first budget," he said.
"Every time governments do a budget they should look at what is responsible and do what they can to help those in need."
The opposition said they would be addressing cost of living issues by investing in 30,000 additional social and affordable homes.
Labor's watered-down JobSeeker announcement comes after a heavy first week of election campaigning in which the Coalition doubled down on Labor's economic management after the opposition leader failed to recall the national unemployment rate.
"It's a choice between the strong economic management and the strong financial management that has ensured Australia has been able to come through this pandemic," Scott Morrison said in a press conference in Gilmore earlier this week.
"That contrasts to a Labor opposition who Australians know can't be trusted to manage money".
As the campaign continues, Labor will now hope to avoid a clash with the Coalition over welfare payment costs, which currently cost the budget more than $15 billion per year.
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