Tuesday, 23 February 2021
Questions without Notice
Thank you, Senator Siewert, for your question. I think I've said a number of times in this place that living without a job would be extremely difficult, and that is why this government has been so incredibly focused on getting the economy to recover—so that jobs can be created so that we have an opportunity to get people who find themselves unemployed, who are on working-age payments, back into work. This morning's announcement was very much around making sure that we have a targeted response, a targeted package of measures, to ensure we are giving people the best opportunity, the best incentives and the best support to be able to get back into work.
Senator Siewert, we were very concerned about making sure that we got the balance right in terms of being able to support Australians who find themselves on working-age payments. We need to support people while they're looking for work, but we also need to make sure we are creating the right incentives to encourage them to look for that work. We also need to remove the disincentives, which is part of the package of measures that have been announced by Senator Cash, to try and make sure that we don't disincentivise people from working. But, most particularly, we need to make sure that our working-age system is fair and sustainable for the people who need it and the taxpayers who pay for it. So, today, what we have done is we have increased the base level of the payment. But, equally, as Senator Siewert would well know, the Australian working-age payment system, our welfare system, is a very comprehensive and targeted system. We have a range of different supplements and allowances and supports in place that recognise the unique situations and conditions that Australians have, whether they have children and get the family tax benefit, whether they are renters and get access to Commonwealth rental assistance or whether there are a myriad of other— (Time expired)
What I can say to Senator Siewert, through you, Mr President, is that on 1 April, as an ongoing measure, the Commonwealth government will be putting in place over the forward estimates a $9 billion increase in payments to people who find themselves on working-age payments. This includes people who are on the JobSeeker payment and also those on youth allowance, youth allowance other as well as students, young people, single people with children. Every one of the 1.95 million Australians who currently rely on our working-age payment system will receive an increase of $50 per fortnight as of 1 April. But, as I was saying to you in the previous question, Senator Siewert, as you well know, there are a number of other targeted supplements and supports that are available for people that recognise the unique situation that different people find themselves in. (Time expired)
How long does the minister estimate it's going to take the 1.5 million Australians currently condemned by this government to live in poverty to find work given at the present time, according to the figures that are available, there are only 175,000 job vacancies?
Thank you, Senator Siewert. Of course, there are a number of measures in relation to job availability and job vacancies, as Senator Cash would well know, and you only refer to one of them. But what we do know is that the most important thing that a government can do is to make sure the settings in the economy are right so businesses can create jobs. Governments don't in and of themselves create jobs. What we do is support our businesses in our economy—our big businesses, our small businesses—so that they are encouraged to employ people. That is why our hiring credits program has been put in place, because we know young people were more impacted than others by this pandemic. That's why we've got the JobTrainer program in place, because we know some of the jobs that were there pre pandemic may not come back post pandemic. But we know there is a great need for other jobs, and that's why we are seeking to retrain and to reskill those people that are on payments now, so that they can take up the jobs of the future.