The Greens want to increase pensions, JobSeeker, Youth Allowance and other income support payments to $88 a day, as part of a major campaign promise ahead of the federal election in May that would cost more than $88 billion over the next four years.
Greens leader Adam Bandt, who previously said he only needed to move ‘a few hundred votes’ to put his party in the balance of power, said he wanted to offer a ‘real alternative’ to the Coalition and Labour.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has ruled out striking a power-sharing deal with the Greens if neither the Coalition nor Labor wins a majority in parliament in the polls.
“If the Liberals and Labor want to argue that pensioners and job seekers should live in poverty, go ahead,” Mr Bandt said. “With the skyrocketing cost of living and inflation a looming issue, increasing the income support rate is the urgent economic stimulus that will help raise wages from the bottom up.”
The Greens, who currently hold nine seats in the Senate and one in the House of Representatives, are targeting three more in the Senate and 10 other lower house electorates, including Richmond in northern New South Wales. The key marginal seat is currently held by Labor’s Justine Elliot and, according to the Greens, has a high proportion of elderly pensioners.
Singles receiving the retirement pension currently receive up to $882.20 per fortnight or $63 per day and couples $1,330 per fortnight or $95 per day.
Singles on JobSeeker are eligible for up to $629.50 per fortnight, which equates to just under $45 per day, not including other supplements, including rental assistance (which is a maximum of $142.80 per fortnight for singles).
The Independent Parliamentary Budget Office priced the Greens’ plan at $88.7 billion over four years to 2024-25, but said the figures were “sensitive to uncertainties associated with escalation rates, growth population and median household income growth rates used to project payments data over this period”.