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This year’s Federal Budget will be one of the most important in our history. So it must be bold and fair, bold in that we need to restore the economy, and fair in that it must address the dreadful disadvantage in our community. For a start the Budget needs to guarantee a minimum living income.

Now I’ll leave it to the experts to determine the exact amount, but surely it’s obvious that the age and disability pensions are too low, and that there’s no way unemployment benefits should ever return to $40 a day. In other words all three payments should be raised to a similar level, and unquestionably that must be above the poverty line.

Can we afford this? Of course we can, but only if the Government drops its crazy idea of tax cuts for the wealthy. Because quite simply this is not the time for such extravagance, and of course it would be unconscionable for politicians, for example, to be $11,000 better off every year instead of pensioners being able to afford their meals and medicines. So the ball is in the Government’s court. Yes we’ve seen through the pandemic that it can rise to the occasion. But that record will be soon forgotten if Australia, after the pandemic, continues to be one for the rich at the expense of the poor.