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Joanita Wibowo

Sunrise slammed over "propaganda" segment

Sunrise slammed over "propaganda" segment

Channel 7’s Sunrise has come under fire as viewers accused the breakfast morning show of repeating “government propaganda” in the Newstart debate.

In a controversial segment on Wednesday morning, newsreader Natalie Barr announced new figures from the government, which she described as “showing just how many dole bludgers are trying to take advantage of the welfare system”.

The figures show that 78 per cent of Newstart recipients have had their payments suspended at least once over the last year for missing their job obligations, such as looking for work, going to interviews or following up on referrals. 

61,747 people on the benefit received 10 suspensions or more.

“An alarming number of people on Newstart are being penalised,” Barr said.

The segment was slammed for resurrecting the “dole bludger” stereotype, with viewers saying the show’s framing of the issue was “demeaning” and “disgraceful”. Barr later apologised, saying the line was “a mistake” and “badly phrased”.

The Morrison government has continued to resist calls to increase Newstart unemployment payments. Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said the suspension figures showed that the penalty and demerit system was working as intended.

“What these statistics do show is that there is a small cohort of people who are flouting the system,” Cash said on Wednesday.

A number of backbenchers, including Barnaby Joyce, have joined a number of Labor and Greens politicians, business and welfare lobby groups, seniors, doctors and the Reserve Bank of Australia in saying the payment is inadequate.

The current rate, which amounts to $555.70 a fortnight or roughly $40 a day, has not been increased for 25 years.