Tudge says money can't feed all
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge says more welfare and government services will not alleviate poverty.
Three million Australians including 731,000 children experience poverty today.
Mr Tudge spoke at the Centre for Independent Studies in Sydney, arguing against further welfare spending and giving his view on the alleviation of poverty.
He said welfare could reduce “absolute poverty”, but would not address “modern poverty”.
“Just continuing to put more and more government services into places, be they Aboriginal communities or not, and continuing to increase welfare payments, isn’t going to be the solution to the problems which exist in many dysfunctional locations today,” Mr Tudge said.
Instead, Mr Tudge said funds should be used to avoid “pathways to poverty” – welfare dependency, drug and alcohol abuse, family breakdown and poor education standards.
“Long-term welfare dependence is a poison on the individual, it reduces people’s ability, it reduces people’s confidence,” he said.
Mr Tudge said government payments were up 38 per cent in real terms over the last 30 years for couples on unemployment benefits, and 10 per cent for a single person.
He also said support in Indigenous communities had reached “saturation level”.
Mr Tudge criticises the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) for its highlighting of poverty-level welfare payments.
ACOSS says Newstart has not risen in real terms since 1994, and family payments have been stagnant since 2010.
“Asking people to ‘better manage’ incomes of $38 a day is not the answer. The reality is that poverty hurts and it hurts children the most,” ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie told reporters.
“Acoss has not argued that increasing payments is the answer to poverty: clearly access to jobs, support services and community support are also vital,” she said.
“The welfare ‘culture wars’ are counterproductive. Acoss would rather work with government to generate jobs where they are most needed, improve employment services for the 300,000-plus on Newstart allowance long-term, raise Newstart and family payments, and strengthen local communities and services such as domestic violence, drug and alcohol programs and mental health that are still sadly lacking in the communities referred to in the speech.”