Cabinet ministers say new figures showing thousands of parents on family benefits are financially better off not getting a job shows the need to rein in welfare spending.
Data obtained by The Australian shows the top 10 per cent of those on parenting benefits (about 43,200 people) received at least $45,032 in 2014/15.
“We do have a generous safety net, but also, people need to be part of our society, part of our community, working and making a difference,” Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network on Friday.
One of the government’s first measures to change the system is a $96 million Try, Test, Learn fund for trials of intervention programs to help welfare-dependent young families.
Mr Pyne said it was designed to help families, especially single parent households, to get back into the workforce with training.
“Ninety six million, I can tell you, to try and do that, is a drop in the ocean compared to the billions of dollars that we are trying to save by having welfare reform, which the Labor party is blocking in the Senate with the Greens,” he said.
Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said the Opposition will examine the impact of proposed changes.
He pointed to the coalition government’s planned wind back of paid parental leave to stop some women from “double-dipping”.
“It is a disadvantage for them being in the workforce if these cuts to paid parental leave go through,” he said.
Social Services Minister Christian Porter, who is leading the welfare changes, told The Australian depriving people the incentive to work was in no one’s interest.
“It is morally incumbent upon us in that in developing policy … and in making the welfare system fairer we look at mutual obligation and the requirement to prepare for, search for and accept work,” he said.
“We need to find better ways to ensure parents retain current, work-ready skills or develop them, even when receiving welfare so they are prepared for and able to accept work when it becomes appropriate for them to do so.”