House debates

Monday, 14 October 2019

Questions without Notice

Welfare Reform

2:47 pm

Photo of Gavin PearceGavin Pearce (Braddon, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Families and Social Services. Will the minister update the House on how the Morrison government's economic plan is getting more Australians off welfare and into work?

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Braddon, who is making such a great contribution in the House of Representatives, speaking up for his constituents in Braddon. He is very strongly committed to getting more Australians off welfare and into work, as is the entirety of this side of the House.

We have, of course, very comprehensive arrangements to support vulnerable Australians. Indeed, for social services and welfare, there's $180 billion in this year's budget, more than one-third of the entire budget and around 75 per cent of total personal income tax collected. So that is a very substantial commitment to vulnerable Australians. But the best way to support vulnerable Australians is to get them off welfare and into work. Everybody—every Australian—who moves from welfare into work secures a personal victory: a victory in terms of self-esteem, in terms of a sense of contribution and, of course, in terms of an improved financial position for themselves and their families. But it's also a victory for our national budgetary position, because everybody who moves from welfare into work is no longer being supported by their fellow taxpayers. Indeed, they are now contributing to the support of others through paying tax.

Our commitment to moving people from welfare to work is not simply rhetoric; it is being delivered. Between June 2014 and June 2018, the number of working-age people on welfare fell by 230,000. What happened when Labor was in government? That number went up by 140,000. Under Labor, the cost of social services and welfare was growing at twice the rate of tax revenue. We've now got it to be sustainable. And, of course, the percentage of those of working age on income support is 14.3 per cent. And you know what? The Leader of the Opposition thinks that's funny. He thinks that is a clever thing to laugh at. What it's about is delivering for the Australian people. You may think, Leader of the Opposition, it's something to laugh at, that people are moving from welfare to work. We think that is something to celebrate. I'll tell you what, mate, we're delivering it. It would never happen under Labor.