Greens reintroduce bill for Newstart boost

Daniel McCulloch

The Australian Greens will soon reintroduce legislation to boost unemployment benefits by $75 a week.

The minor party is riding a wave of post-budget dismay about the adequacy of Newstart and Youth Allowance with a promise to try to increase both in the back half of this year.

Greens senator Rachel Siewert said the federal budget had abandoned people trying to survive on jobless payments.

"We are a kind and generous nation and to leave Australians trying to find a job languishing well below the poverty line is a national shame," Senator Siewert said.

"People are skipping meals and struggling to keep a roof over their head on the stagnant support payment that has stubbornly not increased simply because of a lack of political will."

Malcolm Turnbull has defended his decision not to increase unemployment benefits in this year's budget, arguing the safety net's settings are sound.

However, former prime minister John Howard has joined economists, advocates and business groups calling for the rate to be raised.

Tuesday's budget was silent on Newstart payments and there have been no legislated lifts to real rates since 1994.

The single rate of Newstart is $278 per week.