Senate debates

Wednesday, 2 August 2023


Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Safety Net) Bill 2023; In Committee

11:43 am

Photo of Tim AyresTim Ayres (NSW, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Trade) Share this | Hansard source

S (—) (): I want to make sure that I can give you some proper advice, Senator Pocock. As I think you indicated in your initial contribution on this, Australia doesn't have an official poverty line and poverty is a complex issue. It's driven by many factors, and there is no single measure. There are a range of measures. There are ranges of data that are used, and they all tend to give different answers about the extent of poverty. It's important to remember that all of those commonly used relative poverty indicators don't provide an assessment of people's absolute material living standards. The data only takes you as far as aggregate data can take an assessment of poverty. The government considers factors when examining living standards that include non-income base supports available to households. It considers existing savings and wealth that can potentially be drawn upon and it considers homeownership status when making a range of these kinds of decisions. It's not something, in my view, that is resolved necessarily by being able to establish a single effective measure of poverty in Australia. In fact, the different data provides different information that assists the assessment. Different information and different relative assessments assist the contribution. I'm not sure there would be many in the welfare sector who would agree that a single definitive dataset or index would necessarily assist better policymaking in this area. When legislated, I look forward to more advice to government on this range of questions, including from the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee, which will, as I indicated before, be legislated over the course of this year.


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