Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Ruston. Can the minister update the Senate on how the Morrison government's plan to provide pathways from welfare to work is building a stronger economy and creating more Australian jobs?
I thank the senator for his question and his ongoing and enduring interest in our social welfare system. I am very pleased to be able to update the Senate on the government's progress in building a stronger economy and creating more jobs. We have absolutely focused on the economy because getting more people into work, and delivering a well targeted and sustainable social welfare system funded through a strong budget, is the only way that we can continue to grow our economy and provide jobs for the people who need them.
As my colleague Senator Cash mentioned earlier—and in conjunction with the work I do with Senator Cash as the Minister for Employment—we work hand-in-glove to identify the barriers for people to actually get into employment. At the same time, we are creating jobs to make sure that, when we break those barriers down, the jobs are there. As Senator Cash mentioned, as at 30 June 2019, the proportion of working-age Australians who are dependent on welfare had fallen to 13.5 per cent. That is the lowest level of dependency for over 30 years. When you combine that with the job creation programs of this government—so that when people find themselves in a position to move into employment, the jobs are there—we have actually got a formula that means more Australians are in work. As more people are finding employment we are seeing a corresponding fall in the number of working age Australians on welfare. Since 2013—
Opposition senators interjecting—
Those opposite can sit there and scoff and they can interject. Since 013, we have created 1.5 million jobs for Australians so that they can get into work. As we sit here today, we continue to understand that there are people with barriers to getting into work. We're working on innovative programs such as the Try, Test and Learn program so that we can identify the unique reasons why people sometimes find it more difficult to get into work.
The underlying objective of our welfare system is to support Australians who find themselves in a position where they're not able to support themselves. Moving people from welfare to work obviously strengthens our communities and strengthens our economy, but it is also of extraordinary benefit and value to the person themselves when they get a job. Every person who is on welfare who gets a job is a victory for this system.
But it's also imperative that the long-term sustainability of this system is protected because that protects our community at large and ensures there will be a system in place for them, for our families and for our children. In June 2019, there were 2.2 million Australians of working age receiving income support. This is a decrease of 100,000 people from June 2018. Over the same period of time, the working-age Australian population aged 16 to 65 also increased. (Time expired)
As those in this place would probably know, and if they don't they should, one-third of Australia's budget is targeted to our sustainable but targeted welfare system and this includes payments to a range of people. They include $48 billion to support our older Australians with the age pension, $18 billion on family tax benefit and $9 billion for carers, amongst others. Social services touches almost all Australians at some stage during their lives and it is a safety net to make sure we provide for those who are most vulnerable when they are vulnerable. It is particularly important that this system remains sustainable, because we need to make sure that this system is in place not just for Australians today but for Australians into the future. I am sure those opposite would like to think this system would be sustainable should their children or their grandchildren ever need the safety net that is provided by this system. (Time expired)