Conditionalising the unemployed: Why have consecutive Australian governments refused to increase the inadequate Newstart Allowance?

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Welfare advocacy groups led by the Australian Council of Social Service have been campaigning for an increase in the Newstart Allowance (now renamed the JobSeeker Payment) for more than 20 years. Yet consecutive Australian governments – both Liberal-National Coalition and Labor – have refused to raise the rate, other than the recent temporary changes introduced in response to COVID-19. This paper argues that whilst the Coalition and Labor come from different political traditions, they share a common belief in paid work as the principal foundation of Australian social protection. Consequently, their principal concern has been to incentivise the unemployed via conditional welfare measures to engage in labour market participation, rather than boosting the welfare safety net.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-53
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • conditional welfare
  • JobSeeker Payment
  • Newstart
  • paid work
  • poverty

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