Let’s talk: Is Australia’s welfare system too generous?

People have been left surprised today after new figures were released showing thousands of unemployed Australian parents on welfare are
Let's Talk

People have been left surprised today after new figures were released showing thousands of unemployed Australian parents on welfare are taking home more money every year than some full-time workers.

Th figures show that parents taking home the top range of benefits are receiving at least $45,000 a year tax-free.

The data, which was obtained by The Australian, shows that around 43,200 people, received at least $45,032 in 2014-15. Meanwhile, during the same period, the median overall wage — including part-time workers — was $46,500, which equates to $39,841 as take-home pay after tax.

The statistics have left many questioning whether or not we have to make big changes to our welfare system to make if fairer for all.

Social Services Minister ­Christian Porter conceded that the large amount of welfare money being given to these parents could turn them off looking for work.

“What is not in any recipients’ best interest is to be deprived of the incentives to reduce income from welfare with income from work,” he said.

“Among the many areas that require attention to system design is the fact that the broad ­generosity of the Australian ­welfare system manifests more often than people might expect in circumstances where the money people receive in welfare payments is comparable to being ­employed.”

According to the sums done by The Australian, a single parent with four children aged 13, 10, seven and four years, who paid $400 a week in rent without any employment ­income or child support, would ­receive a basic parenting payment of $738.50 a fortnight, along with an energy supplement of $12 a fortnight and a pharmaceutical allowance of $6.20 fortnight.

Once other extras were added on top and each child accounted for they could bring in $52,523, which equates to $1010 per week.

Meanwhile, a single pensioner receiving full benefits can get $877.10. While a single parent raising four children would no doubt need money to cover their costs, the figures have raised questions about just how fair the system is.

While a strong and robust welfare system is important for Australia, should it come at the cost of encouraging people to get into the workforce?

The government has said it will look into making changes to the system in future, but what those changes are is yet to be determined.

Do you think we need to change the system? What do you think we should do about our welfare?

  1. Dianne Evans  

    It is so bad we keep looking for ways to feel good about taking money from the poorest people while giving our tax dollars in greater amounts to big business. We are turning into a country like America worship the almighty dollar and make middle class disappear have extreme poor and rich !

    • Gina Doran  

      II absolutely agree with you Dianne. There are lots of people eking out a very meagre existence. Motivation to work should not equal making that worse. Raise the basic wage! Stop pandering to the wealthiest in the country and retired politicians.

    • Dead right Dianne. Welfare is pitifully low in this country. In contrast to the way politicians and ex politicians treat themselves like kings on our money.

  2. Kay West  

    The social services minister is quiet right, the money does deter them from looking for work as I had a neighbour many years ago married with three children who said he was better off on welfare then going to work, I now have another neighbour married as well who has four children and considering more as they receive more then if he went to work

    • Sylvia Patcas  

      Ha! The biggest rorters are the 1% that get billions in concessions and don’t pay tax. Politicians on lucrative salaries, use taxpayer money for extras eg trip from Perth to Melbourne for his own wedding. Lovely junkets to Paris. The list goes on. Have a go at them

      • I agree Sylvia. I don’t know where Kay lives, but I have never in my life known anybody who rorted Centrelink. I would suggest that in reality it would be very few. In contrast, we have our own politicians rorting like crazy, their “entitlements” and the billions in welfare handed to big business, multinationals, and billionaire miners. It’s laughable that people get sucked into this anti-Australian government’s propaganda.

    • Bob Constable  

      Kay West “I had a neighbour many years ago”
      so what has changed ? nothing except the Liberals trying to cut welfare to the poor
      The welfare payments only look generous because everybody is being pushed to part time and casual.
      Under employment is the new norm.
      Majority of workers with no wage rises for 3 or 4 years. low income earners near the poverty line
      If they paid realistic wages and didn’t allow business to pocket the profits then the welfare payments would be in context

      • Yes! Under employment is the new normal – very few positions are for 35 to 40 hours weekly & the Liberal government is encouraging the part-time and casual job market. The worker is then classified as a “low-income earner” and entitled to welfare. We need people holding full-time jobs, showing their children that working for a living and moving ahead is the norm.

    • Beverley  

      It happens, and let’s be honest, who can blame them? i don’t approve of it, but can well understand that way of thinking. I wonder if the people who do that, ever go out and do voluntary work s a way of giving back? i imagine not many. It would at least set a good example to the children of how you don’t hav to be a ‘taker’ all your life.

  3. Alan Murphy  

    It’s not a case of looking at ways to take money off the poorest, social security I believe is necessary to look after the needy, but we should not be paying in such away as to discourage people from working, the UK system shows flaws into too much welfare, the government (both sides of politics) need to have the balls to stop the multi national company’s and investors and big earners from ripping off the system, they also need to have the balls to look at the welfare system, look after those in need and kick off all the able body’s who should be working and making a contribution

    • Alan, while ever this government sends our jobs overseas and brings in millions of special visa workers on third world wages, Australians will be out of work. That is a fact. There are something like 20 unemployed for every job in this country and most of the jobs being created are part time. You can’t raise a family on part time wages. Full stop. We are becoming peasants in our own land.

  4. John  

    we should start with the politicians pensions, if they get an income after they stop, no pension, and the pensions and travel allowances should be treated the same as any other pensioner, ok to have a bit more for wasting tax payers money while they were in politics but why shouldt hey dubble dip for the their lives

    • ken goodman  

      I bet Billy Boy would,nt agree with his money bag being cut. It’s the only thing they agree on

    • Marion  

      They are greedy and get far too much anyway i would like to see them do just one day what my husband does and receive his piddly little wage then they will know what work is and come home covered in poop be fair to all we get no bonuses or assistance from government oh and I forgot being bitten by dogs

  5. Cathy Howat  

    I am on DSP, forced to retire after a career devoted to serving others as a nurse. I would argue that DSP and Age Pension payments are not generous enough. People who are on a sole parent’s pension ought to be given real training options to get back to work when they are able, and DSP and Age Pension need to be raised

    • Kelvin Hyde  

      Cathy Howat, i think you need to learn how to budget, i am on the aged pension, and feel that it is very generous, you have to realise, there is no money tree, just accept what you get, and accept it.

  6. Trevor  

    I know a family that came from Lebonon 40 odd years ago .They have a commission house and have never worked here in their lives and are quite happy on the free money we tax payers provide ,went to one of their childrens wedding and they couldnt even speak english.So the government just screws the honest retired people who have paid tax all their
    working life

  7. Ailsa  

    There are not enough jobs out there for all the people looking for them.

    I think if the Government wants to save money they should be looking at corporate welfare – look how much money companies owned by people like Gina Rhinehart receive compared with people on age pensions and new start.

    They also need to look at cutting payments to politicians. It is disgraceful that they can receive an over generous and very well indexed pension while still earning in another government position.

  8. Suzie  

    I, as a taxpayer, have absolutely no issue regarding assistance payments being provided to the deserving who are doing it tough. I strenuously object to my taxpayer monies going to those who create havoc in our neighbourhoods with their criminal activities, antisocial behaviours and general chaos where multiple police call-outs are required. Let one of these groups move into a decent neighbourhood and all hell ensues, and that, I strongly resent and would like to see remedied by reform.

  9. Michael Russell  

    When a household on welfare brings in $2600/fortnight odd and all tax free.
    Yes there is something very very wrong

    • The way I see it, a working person does not get a wage increase every time they have another child! Should be the same on welfare! A basic amount to cover necessities, not luxuries. If they elect to have a child they need to budget for it the same as the working person does. I have a daughter, now 50, who has never worked a day in her life. She has 4 children to different fathers and none of them work either! I worked all my life and have never enjoyed the lifestyle she does! Smokes, overseas holidays, all paid for by the working taxpayer. It has to stop! There is no incentive for them to work!

  10. Guy Flavell  

    Yes our welfare system is a total shambles. It’s just staggering to believe that unemployed people could be taking a cut in income if they are lucky enough to find a job.
    Compare this to an old age pensioner living in rental accommodation and having to rely on St. Vinnies and the Salvos to survive. It’s a blight on the ‘lucky’ country that many of our
    elderly are forced to exist in this despicable manner. Public housing availability is just a sad joke … 200,000 desperate people ( many homeless) on 10-15 year waiting lists when
    the so-called ‘refugees’ jump straight to the head of the queue as well as grabbing a huge share of the other welfare payments.
    Hopefully we will be well served with Christian Porter as Minister for Social Services. He certainly appears to be honestly dedicated to restructuring our badly broken welfare system. Malcolm Turnbull really must resign (or be chucked out) ASAP otherwise the LNP
    will be demolished in 2019. I firmly believe that Christian Porter would be a sensible and successful replacement as PM. His economic track record is impeccable and he is neither
    factional nor a ‘politicking populist’ like Turnbull and Shorten. He could well be the truly conservative leader our country is screaming out for to guide us out of this awful mess.
    A Shorten government is just beyond sensible comprehension … union dominated, corrupt and absolutely bereft of any sound budgetary skills. 3 years under Labor would see our economy on a par with that of the GREEKS !!!

    • Sorel Sanders  

      Guy get of the so called refugees wagon and go and do some research. Most refugees are highly educated members of society and as soon as they can they get a job and contribute money back into society. Yes we have homeless – why – because of all the cuts to the funding, so that people like Jo Hockey can double dip, The welfare handed to the mining companies $3 billion in 3 years at the last count and they don’t pay their fair share of taxes. If people like Gina and Forest paid tax, we would be rolling in it. The LNP have tripled the debt (good economic managers my hat), and no it is not because the Senate is saying no. I can tell you that people living on welfare are not doing it so well, if you believe anything that Murdoch prints in his papers you need to go and do an IQ test. Obviously you enjoy the use of a computer go and do some research, your eyes may open. So stop banging on about the refugees, just have a look at what has happened to their county by greedy oil hungry men (Murdoch is illegally drilling for oil in Syria as we speak)..

      • Guy Flavell  

        Sorel, you are completely correct that most of the LEGAL immigrants to our country have contributed wonderfully … both economically and culturally. They have mostly assimilated really well, especially the post WWII immigrants, but more recently the Vietnamese, Indians and Chinese. Sadly though we find that people from middle
        eastern and African ethnicities, mostly of the Islamic faith, have found it extremely difficult to accept the Australian culture. I blame this on the dreadful Sharia laws that the majority of these people live by. Our culture just cannot accept their despicable
        beliefs that include female genital mutilation, child marriages, polygamy, hatred of gays, death for adultery and a total disrespect for women.
        The people on Nauru and Manus are a totally different kettle of fish. These scumbags have tried to enter our country illegally with a view to ‘country shopping’ for the best welfare benefits. They should have immediately been returned from whence they came and thus saved the Aussie taxpayers the resultant $billions they have cost … free accommodation, free top-class medical, air conditioning, free schooling, free clothing, cash allowances, etc.etc. Plus, Government research has indicated that these illegals, mostly single males, are mainly illiterate and innumerate and would be a long-term burden on our welfare system. The Labor/Greens have a lot to answer for for this abhorrent situation. Especially the loathsome Commie/Maoist Greens with their imbecilic views on open borders, climate change, hatred of the wealthy,
        classless societies, etc. They would have us all wearing drab-green clothes and caps, chanting their idiotic mantra and living a near stone-age existence … complete sodding morons, all of them.
        Corel, I totally agree with the Government’s 18750 refugee policy. Providing that it mainly includes the desperately persecuted Christian families from the M/E countries. I’m sure that most Australians would agree that these families would be a welcome burden to our welfare system and be just so grateful for the opportunity to live in our fabulous country.
        Blaming the homeless on big business, Joe Hockey and Rupert Murdoch is utter
        nonsense and you know it. As are your uneducated comments on our national debt …
        $667 billion inherited from the economically bereft Labor comrades. Hopefully our Government can convince the Senate cross benchers to sensibly agree to the planned long-term budgetary repair desperately required after the 6 years of complete mismanagement of the economy by the Labor party.

      • Ummm you’re kidding me? Ever been to the western suburbs of Melbourne? Between the hours of 9-5 there is nothing but a sea of non white Australians taking advantage of our generosity. Indians Pakistanis middle eastern Africans. They are here to suck and bleed us dry. Social welfare should be for those who have contributed to the country. These economic immigrants have come here not to make Australia better. But to suck and bleed anything and everything they can out of us. We should stop any benefit these people receive. As they are the majority dependant on welfare and send a lot of tax payers money back to their families. Welfare needs a major shake up especially where refugees and economic migrants are concerned. Do you think it’s fair that they are paid the equivalent of new start without having to do anything while waiting for residency. While others have to jump through hoops to receive welfare? Do you think it’s fair that they are given priorities to housing? I don’t. Here’s a quote from a West Sudanese girl I dated earlier this year. “we laugh at you Australian’s. We get your money and send it back home we get housing before you”. That’s the mentality we are dealing with.

        • Guy Flavell  

          Well said Matthew. You have accurately described the thoughts of the vast ‘silent’ majority of Australians. Sadly the political online blogs can’t publish your honest comments for fear of actions by the HRC under section 18c. This utter nonsense of
          an Act just has to be reformed asap … as must our shambolic welfare system where
          50% of the population is on some form of hand-outs. If our welfare system is not totally restructured and reformed immediately then our country will quickly end up as a ‘failed state’ like Greece.

  11. P Worrall  

    Interesting that the presenters of these figures are Murdock publication.With a history of distortion.Owned by Tax avoiding Rupert Murdock.No one Trying to survive on Oz welfare is better off than a full time worker.Wretched poverty is the only outcome of relying on welfare

    • Actually P Worrall, anyone with more than 4 children is invariably reasonably well off on welfare & with 6 or more, they’d be hard-pressed to earn more in fulltime employment.

  12. Anag  

    Reduce the tax for the low income earners to induce them to work and not depend on welfare
    No tax for low income earners up to,,$60000.

    • Guy Flavell  

      A NAG, WHAT UTTER ROT !!! People like you make me despair for the economic future of our wonderful country !!
      Typical mantra of the loathsome Commie/ Maoist Greens of hatred of the wealthy. Who do you think actually pays 90% of the tax in this country … the wealthy and the countless small and large businesses employing millions of workers… that’s who !! The bloody middle income workers should be paying their fair share too without constantly sticking out their greedy paws for even more handouts. The low income workers should be happy to even have employment in this present dreadful job market … and don’t forget that they also enjoy similar generous welfare assistance. Both my sons earn $48k and $51k respectively , love their jobs, pay their taxes and need absolutely NO tax or welfare incentives to make them put in an honest day’s work.
      If only all Australians had this attitude to their jobs then we wouldn’t have this dishonest union-inspired nonsense permeating our society.

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