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MPs warned jobless voters in marginal seats could decide election

National

Welfare advocates have warned federal politicians that the votes of thousands of unemployed people living in marginal seats – including Adelaide’s Liberal-held Boothby – and whose incomes will be cut at the end of March could determine the next election.

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The JobSeeker Coronavirus Supplement will be axed on March 31, while the base JobSeeker rate will be increased by $3.57 a day, or $25 a week from April 1.

As parliament prepares to vote on the ongoing rate of income support, social policy researchers at the University of NSW have produced data on the people it will affect.

The researchers found that 52 federal seats were held by margins less than the number of people on pandemic top-up payments.

One marginal Liberal seat named in the study is Boothby in Adelaide’s south, currently held by MP Nicolle Flint who recently announced she would not contest the next election.

The Liberal Party holds Boothby with a 3000 vote margin, while ACOSS says more than 11,000 welfare recipients in the seat will have their incomes cut next month.

Cassandra Goldie from the Australian Council of Social Service said replacing the supplement with a “paltry” permanent increase of $3.57 per day was nowhere near good enough.

Goldie said jobless Australians – including more thabn 325,000 single mothers – could not be expected to survive on just $44 per day.

“Parliamentarians preparing to vote for this bill need to be aware of the reality in their electorates, and that this is the single most important issue in the lives of people directly affected,” she said.

“The parliament must not turn its back on the millions of people who right now don’t know if they can pay their rent, put food on the table or pay the next electricity bill.”

Labor has questioned the adequacy of the proposed JobSeeker rate but will not stand in the way of the legislated increase, guaranteeing its passage through parliament.

-AAP

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