Question without notice: Supporting people off welfare and into work

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Mr PITT: My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister inform the House how the Morrison government is on the side of Australians who want to get off welfare and into work and create stronger communities?

 Mr MORRISON: I thank the member for his question. He knows that, if you want to get people off welfare and into work, you have to make sure your welfare system is supporting people to get into work. Our government has seen that, in four years, 230,000 people are now no longer dependent on income support welfare payments from the government. I’ll tell you why; it’s because they have jobs. In the last 12 months to the end of June, 296,000 Australians got a job, and over 80 per cent of those jobs were full time. We have the lowest level of welfare dependency in the working age population for more than 30 years. That’s what we’re seeing under this government. We’re seeing people get off welfare and get into work. That is the best form of support any Australian government can provide to the Australian people.

But you also have to make sure your welfare system does the right thing by those who are receiving it and the communities in which they live. That is why we have put in place the Cashless Debit Card. In particular in the member’s electorate in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay from 29 January this year that trial commenced, quarantining welfare support from the purchase of alcohol or gambling products, where those purchases have caused drug and alcohol misuse and problem gambling. On 25 March this year we said we would be continuing trials at the existing sites in Ceduna, East Kimberley and Goldfields, and, of course, continuing those trials in Bundaberg and Hervey Bay.

This is an initiative of our government that is getting results and is changing communities, and the evidence backs that up: falls in drug and alcohol use; decreases in crime, violence and antisocial behaviour; improvements in child health and wellbeing; improved financial management; and ongoing, and even strengthened, community support for the very initiative. We went to those communities and said, ‘We want to partner with you in terms of how we deliver welfare support in your communities.’ It wasn’t just in indigenous communities; it was in all communities where there was disadvantage. There were communities who wanted to get people off welfare and into work and to get the right supports. The independent evaluation released on these cases found 41 per cent of participants drinking less frequently, 48 per cent of participants using drugs less frequently and 48 per cent of those who gambled before the trial now doing it less often.

We are on the side of communities that want to change their communities for the better and to not have a welfare system that holds them back, but a welfare system that lifts them up, strengthens their communities and enables them to get more and more of their people into jobs. Under this government we’re creating jobs. Under this government we’re running a welfare system which is a hand up, not out; one that understands that the best form of welfare is a job. Through programs like the cashless debit card, which is supported by this side of the House and opposed by that side of the House— (Time expired)

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