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Living on $35 a day — a challenge

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Living on $35 a day might be possible for Adam Bandt for a week — but how about a month? Australian Democrat Alex Bond issues a challenge.

Adam Bandt, Jenny Macklin and Kevin Andrews.

WHEN I SAW that The Greens Adam Bandt had challenged Families Minister Jenny Macklin to live on Newstart Allowance for a week, the first thought that popped in to my head was “publicity stunt”.

Now, I’m not trying to knock the Member for Melbourne, because it’s an admirable thing to do to try and connect with people less fortunate — but one week just isn’t enough.

So I took it upon myself, on behalf of the Australian Democrats, to live for the entire month of February on the equivalent of Newstart.

An allowance of $245 per week, or $35 a day, is simply abhorrent. It is criminal that any Australian should have to live under these conditions.

Minister Macklin, in a press conference, stated: “I could”, when answering the question “Could you do it?”

Well, I think not.

Of course, the Minister or Mr Bandt could handle it for a week. This is why I’ve extended a challenge to the Minister, Mr Bandt and Shadow Minister (Kevin) Andrews to join me in living on Newstart Allowance for the whole month of February.

I’m of the opinion that neither the Minister, Mr Bandt or the Shadow Minister will accept my challenge — because they simply couldn’t do it.

In order to fully comprehend the difficulties faced by many Australians, these MPs should accept my challenge.

The major parties need to start realising that playing politics with the realities faced by their constituents is completely unacceptable.

No Australian citizen should have to live on $35 a day. It’s unfathomable.

I’ve decided to do this so that my colleagues in the Australian Democrats, my friends and my family gain a better understanding of the difficulties faced by those worse off.

It’s time for politicians right around Australia to put their big pay packets where their mouths are and join me on Newstart for the month of February.

This challenge is extended to all MPs and Senators, across Australia, who are game enough to try living like their worst-off constituents.

(Alex Bond is the National Policy Coordinator for the Australian Democrats. He is also the Communications Officer for their South Australian Division.)

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