First-term Nationals MP and Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan has broken party ranks to campaign for a $75 a week increase in the Newstart Allowance.
The income support payment is paid fortnightly to unemployed people looking for work. Single adults, with or without children, can receive $559 to $604, while partnered adults receive $504.70 each.
Mr Conaghan said the minimum allowance equating to $280 a week is inadequate.
"Because Newstart payments are tied to inflation the unemployment benefit hasn't been increased in any real terms for about 20 years," he said.
"I hear of children regularly going to school without food and in Nambucca and Kempsey. According to a recent report by the New South Wales Council of Social Services, 41 per cent of kids under the age of 15 live below the poverty line.
"We need to start a genuine discussion on this now."
Mr Conaghan is currently one of three Nationals MPs including Barnaby Joyce and Matthew Canavan campaigning for the increase.
"It's a difficult decision to come to because I understand the imposition that it brings to the Federal Government," he said.
"I've made this clear that this is my agenda and it's what is important to me because my community is suffering.
"We are looking at people who are struggling and are below the poverty line. In our area there is a large amount with 20 to 28 per cent of people in Kempsey and Nambucca Heads below the poverty line.
"You've got almost every second kid under the age of 15 under the poverty line.
"The outcome I want is a real general discussion with all parties, both the Federal Coalition, Labor and independents to increase the Newstart allowance by an additional $75 a week.
"Despite the drought, despite the floods and Coronavirus - we are still in a position where we can consider this. We are in a position to really consider this and look after our vulnerable people."
Mr Conaghan said his own experiences growing up in Kempsey have informed his views on Newstart.
"I believe I'm doing the right thing and I believe I'm listening to my community. That's why I really had no choice but to do this," he said.
"The best form of welfare is a job, but if you can't find a job it becomes Newstart where you can actually survive on it."
Kempsey Neighbourhood Centre manager Shirley Kent welcomed the campaign for a Newstart increase.
"Even basic private rental accommodation in Kempsey costs around $200 per week. So for someone receiving $280 in Newstart per week, there just isn't enough money left over for them to buy their food, petrol and other basic needs themselves," Ms Kent said.
"We would average 20-50 people a week coming in for food help and the majority of these people are on Newstart or another welfare benefit.
"I am seeing an increase in the number of people coming to our centre in need of food and other basic needs."
The Port Macquarie-Hastings local government area has an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent compared to the national average of 5.3 percent, according to the statistics from September 2019.