Senate debates

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Questions without Notice

Social Policy

2:25 pm

Photo of Mitch FifieldMitch Fifield (Victoria, Liberal Party, Minister for Communications and the Arts) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Hume; I can indeed. The Liberal-National government is building a stronger economy and budget, as colleagues know, so that we can fund the essential services that families depend upon. Through payments such as the family tax benefit, we're supporting families fairly and sustainably. The government spends over $18 billion on FTB annually, assisting over 1.4 million families. This government is also investing over $740 million annually through its families and communities programs. These programs seek to strengthen family and community functioning, support vulnerable families, improve children's wellbeing, reduce the costs of family breakdown and improve financial capability and literacy.

Of course, addictions, such as drugs, gambling and alcohol, put functioning families at risk. Further expansion of the cashless debit card and our policy to implement a drug testing trial to combat the scourge of drug and alcohol misuse, which is the core of so much social dysfunction, are important policies that this government is committed to to further improve outcomes for families. The government's substance misuse measures, including the drug testing trial, are designed to help families and individuals to identify drug use issues in welfare recipients and help these people access the support they need, so that they can get back into employment.

As I have said before, good economic policy and good social policy are not alternatives; they're two sides of the one coin. You need a good economic policy to sustain a good social policy. It is the equivalent in a policy sense of breathing in and breathing out—breathing in being good economic policy; breathing out being good social policy.


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