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Feb 24, 2016

Is the Tele right? Are dole bludgers really living it up on Bondi Beach?

How easy is it to mooch off the taxpayer and spend all day, every day lounging about on a world-class beach? Crikey intern Zara McDonald investigates.

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Yesterday, The Daily Telegraph today published an article entitled “Turn back the bludgers”, claiming dole bludgers were ripping the taxpayer off because they would prefer to play golf than work hard.

The Daily Telegraph went to Bondi Beach looking for bludgers, and saw plenty of candidates lying in the sun on the taxpayer’s dollar,” the article stated.

Of course, everyone who goes to Bondi Beach mid-week is on the Disability Support Pension (DSP) or on Newstart. Right?

But the paper wasn’t able to check with beach-goers if they all were surviving on government payouts, because “not surprisingly they weren’t too keen to talk to us, or have their ­picture taken”.

The Tele needn’t worry, because we dug a little deeper and crunched the numbers to come up with an answer we hope will satisfy all concerned parties.

Is it within the realm of possibility that “dole bludgers” can survive solely on government welfare while not working at all and living in Bondi Beach or surrounding areas?

For those who are independent and between the ages of 18 and 20 years old, the DSP provides $556.70 a fortnight. For a single adult with no children, the Newstart Allowance is set at $489.70 per fortnight

If you do the maths, that is just $278.35 a week for the DSP and $244.85 for Newstart.

Assuming you’d like to live in Bondi, the cheapest rent we can find online at the moment is $185 in a share house.

According to ASIC’s Money Smart, the average individual Australian under the age of 35 spends $104 a week on food and drink and $23 on clothing and footwear. But that’s the average, and we may reasonably assume those on government welfare are living below that standard. We played around with costs at Woolworths online and worked out that for just under $65 for a week, you could comfortably live off a diet of pasta, soup, sandwiches and cereal.

On top of this, public transport costs for a week sit around $17.50 for pensioners and are capped at $2.50 a day on the Opal Card. Those receiving the maximum rate of Newstart are eligible for the concession Opal card, which is capped at $7.50 a day. Assuming they’re travelling every day, that’s a maximum weekly cost of $52.50 just on transport.

In this sense, it’s probably not cost-effective for an adult on Newstart to take public transport. According to Can Star Blue, drivers in NSW spend, on average, $36.50 on driving a car every week.

So how are we faring so far?

For those on DSP, we’ve got $185 worth of rent, $65 for food and $17.50 on transport. For those on Newstart, we’ve got $185 on rent, $65 on food and $36.50 on transport.

Doing the maths, for those on the DSP, we’re spending about $267.50 a week, which leaves you a generous $10.85 to spend on luxuries like electricity and water. And for those on Newstart? We are coming in at $286.50, a whopping $41.65 a week to buy themselves something nice, like maybe medication or car rego.

But maybe these beach-going, dole bludgers do only that. Go to the beach every day and nowhere else, and therefore transport to any other destination in Sydney is irrelevant because they can just walk. Does that help our budget standings?

Well, for those on DSP, we save an extra $17.50 a week, coming in under budget by $28.35. For those on Newstart, even by walking everywhere and using no form of transport, we save the $36.50 on car expenses but still come in over budget by $5.15.

Maybe for those relying on government welfare, Bondi isn’t the smartest place to live. Sure, walking distance to the beach they frequent all day, every day, is great. But it’s unsustainable.

The cheapest rent elsewhere we can find is in a share house in Beecroft, Sydney where rent is just $100 for a week.

Add that to our existing expense of food ($65 weekly) and our spending is sitting at a comfortable $165 a week. That’s $113.35 under budget on the DSP and $79.85 for those on Newstart.

But now they can’t just walk to the beach they love so much. Let’s get our transport costs back in there. Add the $17.50 a week for DSP and their public transport, and $36.50 for Newstart and their car expenses and we’re still coming in under budget by $95.50 and $43.35 respectively.

So it’s possible — right?

Well, that’s assuming cars never need to be serviced, bills never need to be paid, wi-fi doesn’t need to be used or, you know, some don’t need a haircut from time to time or need to make a phone call.

Of course, all of these are rough estimates. But from whatever angle you look at it, it looks like a stretch for those relying on government welfare payments to live comfortably just, as The Daily Telegraph would say, “dole bludging” at Bondi Beach.

And we didn’t even factor in buying a beach towel.

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