Newstart debate: Seniors groups push for increased ‘grey pay’ to combat job decline

Momentum is gathering to increase the unemployment benefit to older unemployed workers approaching retirement. It is now acknowledged over 55s are the largest cohort of Newstart recipients by age group. It's worth remembering this group receives Newstart for almost four years, which means for half of unemployed seniors it will be longer.  This cohort excludes the many unemployed with assets that make them ineligible for Newstart and is reduced by the number of receipients qualifying for the pension.

"Seniors Australia chief advocate Ian Henschke said the framework to offer a more generous payment to seniors was already in place. But he said it was ridiculous an unemployed person aged 65 is expected to live on $15,000 a year on Newstart and is then paid $24,000 a year in the aged pension as soon as they turn 66."


I noticed the members of Parliament had no trouble in giving themselves a pay rise. 

My thoughts as well, Hola.  It almost seems that the money for welfare is treated as politicians’ piggy bank, they dip into it first and, if anything is left then the needy get something.

Agree. The politicians exorbitant, obscene largesse makes me quite nauseous actually !!

We should have the unemployment paid like the USA - there its paid according to how many years you have worked and paid income taxes.  Would mean then older workers would get more than one person starting out never worked a day etc.  Maybe pay childrens monies in vouchers with harsh penalties for taking them for things not needed for the kiddies. 

I live in an area with public housing and familes where no one works - Pay TV dishes on rooves as well as later model cars than ours on the driveway even boats. And toddlers no clothes playing on the street in winter even. 

If we did - we wouldnt have the many thousands, if not millions, who come, live off the dole with up to 4 wives wbo can have average 8 kiddies to our 1.3 per woman - and use up to 5 public houses - one for each wife and one for him to have the kids on weekends

Most of those immigrants from Euriope UK etc who came, worked and assimilated.

One Aussie PM said,  if they wont assimilate dont let them in. I agree with that - do you?

Pauline Hansen is having usual problems - suggested we have a plebesite on Immigration and of course got shot down in the Senate and government - both majors are against it saying need numbers for growth. 

Yeah right growth of cost of welfare seems to me.

And who gets the blame for that - not immigration but Age Pensioners who have worked and paid income taxes and lived off one wage raising thier kids or she worked part time and home when school let out at 4pm,  not 2pm or so like today seems to me. 

I agree with you Berry, the payment of unemployment benefit in US is a lot fairer than what we have here.

the US calculations are certainly an improvement provided you don't need it after it is arbitrarily cut off. What do the unemployed do then? 

1.  Close the Job Centres they cost heaps and achieve zilch for the unemployed and that money could be better channeled into raising the rate of Newstart.  

2.  Politicians of ALL stripes should be paid a salary of no more than $100,000 - no perks,no privileges, no BS junkets around the country and overseas, no more commonwealth cars and other  snouts in trough entitlements!  Simply outrageous that federal politicians get paid something like $300 a night away from home allowance or daily travelling expenses or whatever BS they call it, yet those on Newstart get paid something like $280 a week...the savings from politician extravagance could be used to raise the rate of Newstart.

3.  Sick to death of some saying “there are jobs out there if people want them”...OK if there are jobs out there I’d like to suggest employers looking for workers congregate on a weekly basis at every Centrelink office in the country and offer the jobs you have to those who need a job!!!  Repeat close the Job Centres and connect directly face to face those wanting workers with those needing work.  

5.  The government should cover the cost of relocating those in a position to relocate for work to areas needing workers, because relocation even when on a good salary is expensive and in many cases it would be completely impossible for those existing on Newstart to cover ‘relocation for work’ costs.

Saw something on the ABC this morning about extending visas for overseas backpackers so they can do unskilled agricultural work in Oz....Strewth why can’t those jobs be given to unemployed Australians of ANY age? Similarly I do not accept that Australians will not do that work....given I live in a regional area of significant unemployment and under-employment with ANY job vacancies of ANY sort attracting applicants in large numbers.   (The youth unemployment in these parts is something like  20 percent).

I really believe something better could be organised to get the unemployed into jobs rather than forcing them into lives of poverty on Newstart.

What happened to number 4?

The main reason backpackers do the fruit picking jobs is because Australians won't. The farmers would take pickers of any age too but when was the last time someone of say 55 from a major city caught a train to the country and asked for a job? That's exactly what backpackers do. 

I totally agree Shetso1, the Job Centres are a money-making racket. When I lived in Brisbane about 15 years ago Serina Rosso has a Job Centre chain and she is well known to be a mean money queen. As you quite rightly said get rid of them all and connect the employees with the jobless either in person or perhaps online.  

heard a caller on the radio this morning say the main reason backpackers do it is they are more compliant with the labour hire firms and enable the contractors to drive the rates down. He said he had no trouble hiring local pickers for the Jan-Apr season at his farm near Shepparton but labour hire companies are driving people who relied on this work away from the area. He said labour companies have taken 80% of the seasonal work using 457 visa and the like within two decades, and this was another push to control the last 20%.

Totally agree about ditching employment centres. What a scam they are! I have been out of work for 2 years and looked at New Start straight away. I was sent to one of these demeaning places - supposedly they were to assist me with finding a job. Zero input! Hate to think how much that cost taxpayers. We have survived so far without new start. My husband receives the aged pension which is a struggle for both of us to survive on that. Sadly, I am going to have to return to teaching as I am not qualified for anything else. I have applied for a variety of jobs but so far no luck. Definitely not easy times. 

KSS I WILL NOT believe Australians will not do fruitpicking jobs!....And pretty sure a farmer choosing between a fit 20 year old and your average garden variety but not marathon running fit 55 year old plus would choose the fit ‘get more work out of them’ 20 year old...simple ‘Value for money Maths’with the usual layer of ‘ageism’ thrown in..

But very likely if the costs of getting to the country were free for those on Newstart over 55s and many others would apply..But to stress my point these jobs should be given to the rural and regional locals on Newstart first given the scarcity of work in rural and regional Oz.

I did a lot of fruit picking going through holidays and weekends at school and doing my Uni degrees.

..... in those days we got paid by quantity picked.


It's a well known fact that Australians young or old will NOT fruit pick..that's the reason why farmers have to employ backpackers. The situation is so bad, the Government has relaxed the rules for backpackers.

Do your research.

Yes, yes and yes! The plight of older people trying to access gainful employment is well known and this group should have a different scale of payments to those who are younger and more attractive to an employer. We are told, erroneously, that there is no age discrimination when the truthful comment should be that there is age discrimination but employers are too clever to be caught doing it. The greater problem is that any LSL, redundancy or holiday pay has to be spent prior to becoming eligible for the dole and not only has it to be spent but Centrelink dictates how many weeks it should take to spend it regardless.

Howard had the right idea when he addressed this problem in a most practical way. He put all unemployed over 55 on the DSP which gave them a living wage, didn't force them to spend their savings to become eligible for the dole and as a political masterstroke, took all of those people off the unemployment queue.

"The plight of older people ?"

What about the plight of younger people? They are equally as vulnerable, even moreso in my opinion.

You may be right KIAH but I addressed the topic which is about over 55's. 

Point taken OM :)

Some tough cockies living comfortable lives on this thread. Wake up, decent people are living in their cars and 1 in 200 people are now homeless.  Increase Netstart for everyone.


Get rid of Centrelink.  In my experience they are bunch of arrogant cognitive defective f-wits who are a parasite on the public purse.  I perfer the old CES.  At least they tried to help you find a job which was their only role.  Dealing with the dole, pensions, etc. was the singular job of Social Security. 

I was forced to leave a job when I was 64 due to the bully boss from hell. Had a history of degrading, humiliating and terrorising staff (I was 14th staff in 4 years) but the area I worked in - boss was protected, not the worker. I persevered but under doctors orders, had to leave to keep my health. I had planned to still work for some years, but this boss honestly nearly killed me. 18 months from Aged Pension eligibility, I needed 5 months to recover - then hit the job trail. Oh my God - that was almost worst than my last job!

I had to dip into my super to help pay for my mortgage, or lose the house. I applied for over 220 jobs, got a few interviews, but as soon as my age was realised, was a no go zone. Job Service Providers were beyond hopeless - older people are a time waster for them, and they were appalling. I was living in a regional area, limited facilites and jobs, but I was expected to drive vast distances to do obscure courses. In the end, went on the pension, with much depleted super, still not able to find any type of job.   

Scomo might say the 'best welfare is a job'....might be for politicians, not for seniors. From the age of 15 to early 60's I never had a job getting and doing a job. But once I hit the seniors age bracket - forget it, employers are not interested. I do agree the who system needs changing, but doubt I will se it in my lifetime. 

Sorry to hear that you had to go through hell with that bastard of a boss, have you thought about getting together with the other 13 staff who also left and working out whether or not you can report him to some department? 

I'm sorry too sunnyOz ... devastating for you.

For over 55s ... as for the so-called Job Centres, Centrelink requirements and Newstart ... disgraceful lack of service, efficiency or opportunity from what I've read.

Up Sh** Creek comes to mind.

You have my sympathies sunnyOz, I was in a similar position with a boss who seemed to take delight in destroying people. Thankfully, in my case, it was a very large organisation with multiple offices and I was transferred. Although that seems simple, my pleas to head office went unheeded until my union stepped in on my behalf to make things happen. 

              Image result for emoticon lol

Give anybody in our society a fair go?  This is not in the DNA of the current big business controlled government.  All you ever see is tax cuts for the already rich and loopholes left in the tax system for them to exploit,  If I didn't know better An accommodated fraud which the mentally challenged and rusted ons never ever see for what it is.

fully agree with these so called job service providers,absolute waste of money,did nothing for me over 4 years,was working 12 hours a week,but had to go in there every fortnight to find a full time job.Had one interview,he said,why didn't you put your age on the resume instead of wasting both our times,but there's no discrimination haha

Haaa,The government will never get rid of goj centers now, they created them to take the heat off them.If the government ran job centers then they would be blaimed for not finding people work,and we cant have that now can we.

Job centres play a crucial role in giving support in many areas. The only problem is, many are poorly run. They should be more transparent and monitored at regular intervals.

Added to that..there should be a system whereby users of Job Centres can safely take their concerns to someone who can help without being penalised.

Job centres are a massive waste of time and achieve nothing for job seekers and cost heaps...

If these places want ANY relevance at all they should be co-ordinating and connecting employers with those on Newstart - they rarely do they should be joining the employers seeking workers in Centrelink offices around the country in a weekly basis - you know just to give them something to do!

Years ago the good old fashioned CES achieved better results by simply sending out telegrams to those seeking work...

And darn sure very few Job Centres would have sent the regional and rural unemployed to farmers needing people to pick fruit.  

Browse a few regional and rural newspapers and job seeker sites and pretty sure you won’t see too many fruit picking jobs - and the few jobs OF ANY SORT that are advertised are applied for in droves by rural and regional locals desperate for work.

PS.  And whether or not people agree with the Adani issue or not the desperation for work was evident in rural and regional Queensland when even before any tentative announcement of even a hinted at go-ahead of this project was proclaimed,  more than  14,000 people had expressed interest in job vacancies that this project may attract with more than $5,000 of those people being unemployed and yes probably on Newstart, (Ref: The Courier Mail - 30.1.19).

“I’m not going to lead people on about this. You ask me ‘Are we increasing Newstart?’ Well the answer is ‘No, we are not’,” Mr Morrison told Seven News. “They believe the best form of welfare is a job and they believe that our welfare system should work as much for taxpayers as it does for those who benefit from it.”

well done Australia.

Scotty has said no increase in Newstart (disgusting) and the best way to get off welfare is having a job. Ok Scott, get those jobs moving or I won't be voting you in next time.

Good point Reagan. However whenever the government tries to create those jobs, there is a lot of hullaballoo and protests. I say, give this government a chance, you can't pull rabbits out of thin air. I have no confidence whatever in the rest of the political mob in this country, Morrison is all we've got at this point.

Newstart should be increased for all not just seniors. We do not need job centres, you can find jobs throught many online sources, like Seek and Careers one, etc. Many job centre staff are not trained enough and have no more knowledge than the person looking for work especially more older and experienced people. The plan of all Governments is too keep the poor and middle class struggling, the only way out is to educate yourself about how the who money thing works and become financially educated which they do not each in schools because they only teach you to get a job and slave away for your whole life to pay taxes so politicians and the other elite can live in luxury.


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