Shift unemployed to disaster relief: Labor

Labor MP Linda Burney says people should not have to jump through hoops to get assistance.
Labor MP Linda Burney says people should not have to jump through hoops to get assistance.

Labor wants welfare recipients living in lockdown areas automatically bumped onto higher COVID-19 disaster relief payments.

The opposition also wants the federal government to automatically move people back onto JobSeeker and waive the waiting period when the lockdowns end.

Currently, people receiving the dole or other government payments aren't eligible for disaster relief and have to choose one or the other.

Labor's social services spokeswoman Linda Burney says it should be simplified.

"If a worker is entitled to a higher payment, they should receive it, automatically. People should not have to jump through hoops to get the assistance they have been promised," she said.

Labor wants the government to give an "iron-clad guarantee" the waiting period would be waived for people moving back onto JobSeeker from the disaster payment.

The scheme provides up to $600 a week for people in nationally recognised hotspot areas who have lost at least 20 hours of work in a seven-day period, and $375 for those who have lost between eight and 19 hours.

The JobSeeker rate is $310.40 a week for a single person with no children and $282.70 for someone in a relationship, excluding the rental supplement.

The dole rises to $333.75 for single people with children and as well as for those aged 60 or older if they've been on the payment for nine months straight.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet told the Sydney Morning Herald he had raised concerns with the Morrison government about people missing out on federal disaster payments.

"There is a clear inequality between workers who have been stood down that are already on income support, and those who aren't," he said.

The opposition has also taken aim at money paid as part of the scrapped JobKeeper program to companies that did not meet required revenue shortfalls.

The scheme ended in March and was tied to businesses keeping workers on the books during lockdowns.

Australian Associated Press