No Crystal Ball on Post-Virus Dole: Social Services Minister

August 18, 2020 Updated: August 18, 2020

The minister responsible for Australia’s welfare system is unsure how much the unemployment benefit will be after the COVID-19 pandemic.

JobSeeker has been boosted during the health crisis to a maximum $1100 per fortnight through to September, and then $800 until the end of the year.

The payment, formerly known as Newstart, paid $40 a day prior to the pandemic and hasn’t risen in real terms in more than 25 years.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston says it’s too early to say if it will return to the $40 a day level.

“We will be making further statements in coming months so we can provide ongoing certainty,” she told a Senate inquiry on Aug 18.

“But right now I don’t know whether we’re going to have a situation where we have clarity around what post-coronavirus Australia is going to look like by the end of the year or not.

“I don’t have a crystal ball.”

There have been wide-ranging calls, including from former Liberal prime minister John Howard and Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, for the payment to increase from its pre-pandemic level.

Rebecca Gredley in Canberra