Australia does not need an official poverty measure because its welfare system is “comprehensive” and “targeted”, according to the social services minister.
At a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, Anne Ruston faced questions about the government’s plans for the permanent rate of the jobseeker payment, temporarily set at $815 a fortnight, up from the pre-pandemic level of $565.
Ruston gave her strongest indication that the supplement would be extended beyond 1 January, although it was unlikely the government would announce a permanent increase before the end of the year.
The government doesn’t have a measure of poverty, which has been the practice of successive governments, because our payments system is very comprehensive and specifically targeted towards providing the policy outcomes that are defined by the particular [support] measures,” Ruston said.
“The suite of determining factors in those particular payments is specific to those payments.
“A narrow definition of ‘poverty’, as I said, is not something the government has ever sought, doesn’t have.”
Asked by Gallagher whether people should receive payments that left them in “poverty”, Ruston replied: “You’re returning to the word poverty again.
“But what I would say is that income support payments are put in place as a safety net to assist people.”
Excerpts from Guardian