Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Safety Net) Bill 2023; In Committee
One Nation will not be supporting Senator Pocock's amendment. He says he wants to raise it to 90 per cent of the age pension. At present, a single aged pensioner receives $1,064 a fortnight. A couple receive $1,604 a fortnight. For a single person, that's $27,664 a year that they receive. That's just as a welfare payment. That's an aged person. Now, to raise it to 90 per cent of that, you're probably looking at around about $25,000 a year.
I know apprentices don't even get paid near that, okay? So put it in relation to someone who is actually working, who has a job, who has to go out every day, who has to get their own tools and clothing, and who pays taxes as well. Now, to pay someone equivalent to 90 per cent of what an aged pensioner gets doesn't equate to me. I spoke to my hairdresser. I said, 'What are you on an hour?' This was a couple of months ago. They said, 'Around about on average $24 an hour.' Prior to that, those working in nursing homes were on $22 to $23 an hour. That has probably been increased now but not by much. So the fact is you're looking at welfare payments to people who do absolutely nothing, who don't go to work. They don't do anything, and you want to pay them probably more than what someone who has a job is earning out there.
You talk about these people living in poverty. I can tell you about working families, mums and dads, who are struggling. They're both working. They've got kids. They can't be home for the kids and they're struggling to pay their bills. But you're more interested in these people who are on welfare—like I said, if you have a genuine reason for not working, you'll have my full support. But when you have people on welfare for more than a decade, 20 or 30 years—and this is a question I will ask of the minister. I have the number here that 156,250 people have been on welfare for more than 10 years. Answer me the question: how many have been on welfare for more than 20 years?