Families Minister Jenny Macklin challenged to live on $35 a day

The Greens have challenged Families Minister Jenny Macklin to live off the Newstart allowance after she said she could survive on the $35-a-day payment.

Greens acting leader Adam Bandt said on Wednesday he will live off the Newstart allowance for a week when parliament resumes, to prove how difficult it is.

It comes after Ms Macklin was asked during a press conference about the federal government's changes to the Newstart allowance on Tuesday if she could survive on $35 a day - the new rate of the benefit.

Ms Macklin responded, "I could" but the question and answer were described as "inaudible" when her office released a transcript of the press conference.

Mr Bandt said for the minister to say it is possible to live on that amount was "an outrageous statement".

"Once you take into account your rent your bills, your food, there's not much change left over from $35 a day," he told reporters in Melbourne.

"There has been inquiry after inquiry, report after report saying this is an income that's below the poverty line, it's not really an income at all.

"I think perhaps the minister needs some first hand experience of it and maybe that will change her mind."

The Greens say the allowance should be increased by $50 a week to help people on the allowance meet some of the most pressing expenses.

Opposition Families spokesman Jamie Briggs said the government should focus on balancing its own books rather than lecturing single mothers.

"After five years of delivering record debt and deficits, the last thing the Gillard Labor Government should be doing is lecturing single mums on how to live within their means," Mr Briggs said in a statement.

"The Gillard Labor government is incompetent and untrustworthy - it can't even be trusted to get a ministerial transcript right.

"Plainly, it would be tough to live on the dole but the question to be answered today is why did Minister Macklin try to hide her answer?"

West Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert spent a week living off the allowance last year and said she found it impossible.

"It gave me a really good feel for what it's like to have to try and exist on that, to try and pay your rent, pay your necessary bills, eat and try and find a job," she told ABC Radio in Melbourne.

Under the Newstart changes, single parents will move onto the Newstart allowance when their youngest child turns eight.

It will save the budget $728 million over four years but welfare groups say it will lead to more people falling into poverty.

Ms Macklin defended the changes on Tuesday saying they would encourage people to work.

"We understand what is important for people who are unemployed is that we do everything possible to help people get work," she told reporters in Melbourne.

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  1. R rated Preacher11:59am Sunday 24th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I’d like to see Gina Rinehart live on $2 a day! lol! Mind you! She’d lose a few tones! You can’t get much food for $2. nothing like suffering “foot in mouth” is there?

  2. Anthony09:27am Sunday 24th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    What they worked hard, saved up bought a rental and want to rent it for market value. How dare they!!!!!!!

    1 Reply
  3. Kara08:09am Tuesday 05th February 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    We do not earn more than a person working full time, maybe full time retail....but there is no way to get ahead, especially having to pay for a three bedroom house, having to pay child care fees, having to pay for more than one person. My eldest daughter works full time and struggles on what she gets, I get a lot less than her and have to pay for two other people in the home. Rediculous comments, In a two parent family at least there is two incomes.

    1 Reply
  4. Heather11:26am Wednesday 30th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    Jenny Macklin is just another one of Gillards mongrel pollies. If you got the brains of all the Labour Party pollies, converted them to ink, you would not even get enough to make a fullstop. The Macklin #$%$ is nothing but a big fat liar. Of course she has been trained by gillard, and swan, so what more could we expect. The #$%$ is probably on $35.00 per minute, and like all of her mates, should be on $35.00 per week.

  5. Christine01:26pm Sunday 20th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I agree with all the comments. and if Mackie thinks she can do it then she should show us how. ALso I would like to know if she would like 2 months warning that they are cutting her salary by 25% just like the Sole Parents got?? Last I read the politcians had awarded themselves - with no warning to the public - a 70% increase???? Couldnt that have made a dent in the budget if they had all said No to the increase?? Do as I say not as I do??? Easy targets are the poorest and most powerless.

  6. Jason11:11am Sunday 13th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    By no means should she be able to wiggle her way out of it.She obviously lives in a blissfully ignorant, upper-class society.Make her do it !!!.Sick and tied of the word games and sneaky,snide behaviour by these people who are supposed to working for our benifit.

    1 Reply
  7. First10:02pm Sunday 06th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    $35 per day = $245 per week board & Elec $142 per week medication $9.80 per week priv health $29.32 per week phone $29.45 per week internet $13.80 per week charity commitment $4.60 per week mv rego $13.60 per week total $242.57 leaves me $2.43 to feed myself, mv insurance, medical appointments, personaly hygiene products, feed my cat, any vet bills, fuel, postal exp for job applications, clothing, i must be doing something really wrong - could someone help me with my budget

    1 Reply
  8. Wayne11:49am Sunday 06th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    I feel sorry for the person that married that married this #$%$she has a face like a half sucked peice of cow turd,you poor person theres still time to get rid of it.

  9. Wayne11:47am Sunday 06th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    This wolman is a joke and her person who typed up what she said is a bigger #$%$ for lieing the pair of them need to be hung from a tree,what a joke,

  10. Edith08:55am Saturday 05th January 2013 ESTReport Abuse

    The main problem is how much it costs to rent, at least 50% goes to accommodation. That means that the landlords in this country are getting making money out of the least able to pay. The rental accommodation problem needs to be addressed. At 62 it is increasing difficult to find work and I cannot apply for a pension until I am 65. No mans land. Regards EA