House debates

Monday, 20 August 2018


Select Committee on Intergenerational Welfare Dependence; Report

11:18 am

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (McMillan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I present an interim report on behalf of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Intergenerational Welfare Dependence, together with the minutes of proceedings and evidence received by the committee.

Report made a parliamentary paper in accordance with standing order 39(e).

by leave—The resolution of appointment for this committee stipulated that the committee present an interim report on or before 20 September this year. The committee determined that it would be beneficial to table this discussion paper as an interim report to provide guidance on the scope of the inquiry to individuals and organisations making a submission.

This discussion paper sets out the areas that are of particular interest to the committee—it is not a comprehensive overview of this far-reaching topic. Intergenerational disadvantage is a topic that touches on many aspects of public policy. To make some progress, it's important to note that this inquiry is not a review of the entire welfare system; rather, it will focus on the intergenerational welfare dependence of families and the outcomes for children.

To this end, the committee is guided by three foundational questions:

        Whether these questions are as straightforward as they may seem, the committee is well aware they cannot be answered without agreed definitions and access to data.

        A fundamental question for the inquiry is the definition of 'welfare'. At its broadest, welfare can be defined as all social assistance payments. The committee believes that it will be useful to focus on payments to working-age people who have a capacity to work.

        A key element of this inquiry is identifying accurate and reliable data that can illustrate the scale, scope and impact of intergenerational welfare dependence. This interim report has identified several data sources. However, the committee is aware long-term intergenerational data is limited. As such, the committee is keen to learn of any other datasets or data sources that can assist in determining disadvantage, particularly across generations.

        With agreed definitions and data, the committee will be in a position to focus on families and improving outcomes for children. Understanding why some families require welfare assistance for short periods only and why others become trapped in the system is vital to designing measures and programs that might be used to break this destructive cycle.

        As I myself and many others have said in this place before, having employment has a profound effect on people's wellbeing and the long-term prospects of their children. We know there are generally large differences in outcomes between those with the highest levels of parental welfare dependence and those with none.

        As part of the inquiry, the committee is keen to hear evidence on the primary influences on children that may affect their later labour force engagement. Importantly, we are also interested in hearing evidence based on interventions that have proven effective in addressing intergenerational welfare dependence.

        Today, in addition to tabling the interim report, this inquiry has officially been launched. The committee welcomes submissions to its inquiry from individuals and other stakeholders across Australia.

        I encourage everyone—people who are interested in this particular issue—to consider the causes, impact and potential solutions to help curb intergenerational welfare dependence in Australia.

        Submissions are open until 18 September and more information can be found on the committee's website at

        I look forward to working alongside my colleagues on the committee throughout this inquiry process.

        11:22 am

        Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

        by leave—I want to echo the very reasonable and wise words from the member for McMillan. I don't want to take up too much of the chamber's time other than to make the point that I've been heartened by the spirit of cooperation that Select Committee on Intergenerational Welfare Dependence has started with this process. It's very important for us to focus on what we can do to break the cycle of entrenched disadvantage, which was the nub of what the member for McMillan was talking about. We will certainly not be demonising welfare. Welfare can be defined as a social effort designed to promote the basic physical and material wellbeing of people in need. It's as simple as that. It is not a dirty word. Often, many people who have made it to this place have relied on welfare at some stage of their life. It's part of the social contract of this nation that we look after people in need. This committee is about how we break cycles of entrenched social disadvantage, particularly for children who grow up in households with a disproportionate dependence on welfare. We've been heartened by the start of the committee. I look forward to this committee working in a truly bipartisan manner to make some strong recommendations for this government and future governments on how we can break that cycle. I commend the report to the House.

        11:24 am

        Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (McMillan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

        I move:

        That the House take note of the report.

        Photo of Rob MitchellRob Mitchell (McEwen, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

        The debate is adjourned and resumption of the debate will be made an order of the next day of sitting.