WILL HODGMAN LIBERAL STATE COUNCIL ADDRESS
Tasmania's Liberal premier Will Hodgman wants to see his federal colleagues boost the Newstart allowance, saying it would ease pressures faced by unemployed people.
The Morrison government has resisted growing calls to increase the $40-a-day welfare payment, which is currently being examined by a senate inquiry.
Mr Hodgman said he would welcome an Newstart boost if the federal government could afford it.
"It would be a good thing to see those on low incomes and those who do depend on social security benefits to have an increase to reduce that pressure in their lives," he told ABC Radio.
Tasmania's unemployment rate is 6.4 per cent, well above the national average of around five per cent.
Mr Hodgman said Tasmania has a higher proportion of people on Newstart than the rest of the country.
Social service providers and Newstart recipients gave evidence to the senate committee in Launceston on Friday.
Deborah, 61, who was made redundant after working at a factory for more than 20 years, said she was unable to afford medication and feared she would have to live in her car.
"People like myself deserve to be treated with some respect and to be able to keep some dignity," she said.
"We've paid our taxes and we deserve better. It feels that the government would be far happier if we weren't here."
Kym Goodes, the CEO of the state's peak body for the community sector TasCOSS, said there was one job for every 11 applicants in Tasmania.
"Poverty prevents so many Tasmanians from fully participating, at a point in time when the state is turning the corner," she said.
The island state is also battling an affordable housing shortage, which Youth Network of Tasmania CEO Tania Hunt said was compounding problems faced by young job seekers.
"I think there's a level of frustration and despair," she said.
"(A Newstart increase) would able them to cover the cost their living and put their best for forward for jobs, their apprenticeships."
Newstart has been stagnant for 25 years. Submissions made to the inquiry have urged $278-a-week payment to be increased by $75.
Federal Labor MP Linda Burney questioned whether other Liberal MPs and senators would back a Newstart increase.
"Will they stand up to their federal Liberal colleagues? Will they stand up for Tasmania?" she said in a statement.