Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt Mike Knott BUN220419PITT2

NEWSTART: Pitt's advice to jobseekers

DEPUTY Prime Minister Michael McCormack has pushed back against calls to raise the Newstart payment.

Maintaining the Morrison government's stance of jobs being a preferable alternative to Newstart, Mr McCormack urged recipients to move town if they couldn't find work.

"And what I think we do need in this country is a more mobile workforce. So people have to be prepared to move sometimes out of their comfort zone and out of their home town to the next town to take a job," Mr McCormack told Sky News.

"A job, any job, will be better than none at all. And it wil be better than living on welfare. And certainly with Newstart it is that stopgap. It is that safety measure. It is not supposed to be a living wage as such."

Not all members of the Coalition are on board with this perspective.

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce joined the call for a raise to Newstart last week, telling The Australian on Tuesday not all job seekers were able to move to another part of the country for work.

Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said shifting around the country to wherever the work was was not always the practical approach.

"A generation of people - like my father's generation - shifted to wherever the work was, they had no choice," Mr Pitt said in response to NewsMail questions on Mr McCormack's position.

"We live in a different society today and that's not always practical. My advice has always been to take what job is in front of you."

Mr Pitt reiterated his plan to implement the $173 million Hinkler Regional Deal to drive jobs into the Bundaberg region.

"The $173 million Hinkler Regional Deal will drive jobs into the local economy through important infrastructure projects.

"Media reports today state the Bundaberg Regional Council is in a positive financial position following funding from the State Government and I look forward to seeing what the council's contribution will be to the Hinkler Regional Deal and council's stated priority projects."

A doctor from the Australian Medical Association has commented on the debate, weighing in to the side of increasing Newstart to the National Press Club yesterday.

"People on that allowance are experiencing significant stress and issues and that must have a health impacts on their wellbeing," Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone said.

"Clearly if they are struggling, clearly, if it is insufficient to meet their needs, certainly from a health perspective, it makes sense to increase," he said. Dr Bartone's comments came as Labor accused a government minister of intervening to stop a parliamentary committee calling for a Newstart increase.

Then-social services minister Paul Fletcher asked a bipartisan committee to alter an April report to remove a recommendation to lift unemployment benefits, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Wednesday.

The allegation comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned his backbenchers against publicly speaking out on issues that the coalition did not take to the election, including lifting Newstart.

Newstart recipients receive a maximum payment of $550 a fortnight.



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