Barnaby Joyce calls for raise in Newstart in a bad way

Centrelink/ Medicare building
Image: iStock

Former Nationals leader, Barnaby Joyce has become more “sympathetic” to those on Newstart. He “knows what it’s like to struggle”.

He is now calling for the Coalition to raise Newstart.

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has rejected the idea.

The kicker? He currently gets over A$211,000 salary per year.  His ‘struggles’ that he has are nowhere near those on Newstart.


It’s good that Joyce has had a change of heart over Newstart (six years too late, but still). But cry me a river. Joyce made his bed, now he has to sleep in it! It’s insulting to those struggling to survive on Newstart to have Joyce compare them to himself on over A$211,000.

Current Newstart rates

According to the Department of Human Services website, single people on Newstart get A$511.70 a fortnight.

Other recipients and the eligible  andidates and amounts are:

  • Single parents with one or mor dependent child: A$601.10
  • With partner (also receiving Newstart): A$501.70 per person
  • Single 60+ who has been unemployed who has for nine months: A$601.10
  • Principal carer of a foster child, looking after a child granted by the court, has large family, has children who are homeschooled or receiving distance education: A$776.10


The amounts hasn’t changed since 1994.Newstart hasn’t kept up with inflation or to reflect cost of living.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has admitted it was “modest“.


The irony of Newstart rate

A number of politicians argue that Newstart is only meant to be a temporary safety net between jobs.

The tragic irony is they’ve made the Newstart payment so low that many recipients can barely afford to live, let alone pay for transport, clothing for work, or fees for further training. Surely this defeats the purpose, unless locking people in poverty is the goal.

Joyce’s ‘struggles’ vs the struggles of someone on Newstart

Over the past few days, media outlets have been awash with reports and opinion pieces on realities of living on Newstart.

Mamamia posted an article yesterday by student, Shelley Cheng about trying to survive on Newstart. Unlike Joyce’s choice on whether or not to use a dishwasher, Cheng has had to make really tough choices.

Cheng claimed after rent, bills, transport and a number of medical expenses, she is left with less than A$10 for food and other expenses. did an article suggesting some Newstart actually skip meals in order to make their budget stretch. This is beyond apalling.

The tragic irony of the jobs defense

People who protest a rise in Newstart often give one of two arguments: one, that the Coalition Government can’t afford to raise it. The second argument is that Newstart was, and is only meant to be temporary for those in between jobs. It isn’t meant to be a comfortable alternative to working.

The irony to the second argument is that the government has made Newstart payments so low that many recipients can’t afford to look or prepare for work.


By many accounts, Barnaby Joyce should be praised for his change of heart. Unfortunately, he has turned the debate into a farce due to his narcissism. Hopefully someone else can make a slightly more convincing argument that will win over the government soon.

What do you think about the Newstart? Feel free t9 comment below?

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By Sara Harnetty

I'm a student. Interested in current events, music and various issues.

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