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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7737

Pensions and Benefits

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:13): My question is to the Minister for Social Services. This morning, I introduced a bill to establish a social security commission to independently recommend adequate levels of social security payments, from Newstart right across to pensions. Australians want to know that the social safety net is there to catch and look after them as they engage with workforce or further study. It's not a punishment. Will you support the establishment of this commission to ensure people living on government payments have a dignified standard of living?

Mr TEHAN (WannonMinister for Social Services) (14:14): I'd like to thank the member for her question. Can I say to her that the government is not going to outsource our welfare system because it is far, far too important—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr Hill interjecting

The SPEAKER: The minister will resume his seat for a second. The member for Bruce is warned, as are other members interjecting.

Mr TEHAN: As a nation, we should be extremely proud in this place that in Australia the top 20 per cent give more to the bottom 20 per cent than in any other OECD nation in the world. What that means is that as a government we have been able to ensure that pensions for couples have gone up by $150 and pensions for singles have gone up by $100. When it comes to the NDIS, we've been able to fully fund it. When it comes to those of working age—and this is something we on this side should be incredibly proud of—the number on a welfare payment is at a 25 year low at 15 per cent. That is because of the policies we as a government have been able to put in place.

Look at the reforms we've undertaken that we got through the parliament this year. The welfare reform bill collapsed seven welfare payments into one. Look at the cashless debit card. I know all members on this side, especially the member for O'Connor, would have been incredibly interested to see on Friday the press release put out by the mayor. He said: 'The cashless welfare card is already proving a success. While the rollout of the federal government's card in the Goldfields only started this year, all the indications are positive.' As a government, we are going to continue making sure that we focus on ensuring that the best form of welfare is a job.

Ms McGowan: Mr Speaker, I did have a point of order, but I think the answer's rambled to its end.