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Podcast: JobSeeker payments and the approaching unemployment cliff

22 May 2020

Professor Peter Whiteford

Martyn Pearce

With the $550 coronavirus supplement set to expire in September, we speak with Professor Peter Whiteford about the future of Australia’s JobSeeker program as calls grow for a permanent raising of the rate.

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, there were calls from all sides of politics for the Australian government to increase the rate of its unemployment benefit, formerly known as Newstart. The Morrison government long resisted this pressure, but the economic cataclysm brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic brought about major, albeit temporary, policy change. While the government insisted that the new coronavirus supplement is a short-term option, some of the 1.6 million people on JobSeeker, and the additional 6.1 million people on JobKeeper, may face the prospect of extended unemployment if the promised economic ‘snapback’ fails to materialise. But what will happen to those still unemployed, and the economy as a whole, if/when the supplement ends? And, if the government is to raise the rate, by how much should it do so? On this episode of Policy Forum Pod, we’re joined by ANU Crawford School of Public Policy academic, Professor Peter Whiteford, to examine Australia’s JobSeeker scheme. Listen now.

Peter Whiteford is a Professor at Crawford School of Public Policy. He works on child poverty, family assistance policies, welfare reform, and other aspects of social policy, particularly ways of supporting the balance between work and family life. He has published extensively on various aspects of the Australian and New Zealand systems of income support.

Martyn Pearce is a presenter for Policy Forum Pod and the Editor of Policy Forum.

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