Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
Page: 2320

Employment


Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (14:19): Mr President, my question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, Senator Ryan. On Friday, 28 October, The Australian had an article titled 'Welfare pays more than work.' The article claimed that a single parent with four children was able to earn more per year from income support payments than they could from a median full-time wage after tax. Analysis of the data showed that the figure for the working parent had not factored in the $30,910 in family tax benefits they would also receive. Did any member of the government, their staff or anyone from the Department of Social Services provide the so-called new government data mentioned in the article in The Australia? If so, what was the nature of the data provided?


Senator RYAN (VictoriaSpecial Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Cabinet Secretary) (14:20): I thank Senator Siewert for her question. I am familiar with the article. I am advised that the government never said that parents would be better off on welfare compared to getting a job, and that particular characterisation that you referred to was one of the media and not of government. The Minister for Social Services gave a very comprehensive speech about—

Senator Kim Carr interjecting

Senator RYAN: Senator Carr, the Minister for Social Services gave a very comprehensive speech outlining a number of the challenges in the welfare space, and a number of the facts are worthy of repeating here. One of the cameos I can go through: the parenting payment single recipient for a person—

The PRESIDENT: A point of order, Senator Siewert.

Senator Siewert: I suspect I have heard those cameos before. I asked very specifically: did any member of the government, their staff or anyone from the Department of Social Services provide the so-called new government data and, if so, what is the nature of the data? I did not ask for a cameo; I did not ask for anything else; I asked that specific question.

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order on my left. I believe the minister answered that portion of your question up front about the fact that the government did not brief. That is what I heard him say.

Senator RYAN: In that, I was referring to the article mentioned in the substantial preamble to the question from Senator Siewert.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you. In that case, Minister, you are aware of the question. I remind you of the question.

Senator RYAN: Senator Siewert, I was going to provide the Senate with that data and some other data; but, given that you have restated what you wish me to address, I think you will accept that I am in no position to provide that answer, with the briefings I am provided representing the other minister. If I have any further information, I will bring it back to the Senate.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Siewert, a supplementary question.










Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (14:22): I am extremely disappointed that the minister who is the minister responsible for this does not know whether the government provided that data. When the minister was making his comments on it, why did he not address the issue that no family tax benefit payments were included in the analysis?


Senator RYAN (VictoriaSpecial Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Cabinet Secretary) (14:22): Mr President, I think it is a little odd that the senator is assuming that I would be able to peer into the minister's mind in a period of questions without notice. I am quite happy to outline the facts that I have at hand, but I am in no position whatever either to agree with the characterisation as outlined by Senator Siewert, to accept it as legitimate, or to peer into the mind of the minister I represent in here. I am happy to present facts. If I have any further facts I will come back to the Senate, but I am not going to address the attempted outrage and the attempted sledging of the minister by Senator Siewert.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Siewert, a final supplementary question.



Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (14:23): Perhaps the minister, in taking that on notice, could also take on notice whether the government or the minister's office did in fact do any analysis before the minister made any comments on this and whether the data presented in the article was accurate or included a fair comparison of like-on-like—in other words, both groups were receiving family tax benefit.


Senator RYAN (VictoriaSpecial Minister of State and Minister Assisting the Cabinet Secretary) (14:23): Mr President, I refuse to accept the characterisation outlined by Senator Siewert, who is making an assumption about the particular article that I referred to in my first answer, when I said the government is not in a position to control what is printed in the newspaper. I know the Greens might wish it were the case, but this side of politics has constantly opposed it. I will not accept the characterisation put by Senator Siewert. I do not think she is actually interested in the facts here, other than a sledge at the minister. If I have any further information to bring back to the chamber, I will. I have no doubt that the department worked very effectively with the minister before he made his very comprehensive address to the National Press Club.