In light of recent cuts to JobSeeker, Abigail asked the NSW Government what is being done to tackle the increasing rate of poverty in our state.
Abigail asked (12:17): My question is directed to the Leader of the House, representing the Treasurer. How many additional people in New South Wales will be plunged into poverty when the rate of JobSeeker is cut to $40 a day on 1 April? What is the New South Wales Government doing to support those who will find themselves suddenly living below the poverty line?
The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE (Minister for Finance and Small Business) (12:18): I am about to be promoted again to the Federal Parliament. I thank Ms Abigail Boyd for her question and answer it in this way: We should be here today saying that if ever there were a government to protect people from falling into poverty—which none of us in this place ever want to see happen—then we have every confidence that this is that Government, whether it is with mental illness programs, homelessness measures or support for small businesses. This is the Government which most people believe, except those opposite, has the best approach to ensure that it delivers for the people. If the member is asking me how many additional people in New South Wales will be plunged into poverty on 1 April because she knows the answer, then she has a foresight that Nostradamus would be proud of. But what she should be pointing to is the plethora of programs, amongst other things, which governments have to try to protect people from falling into poverty. Over the course—
The Hon. John Graham: Why do you keep underspending on these projects then, if that is where you are heading? Why do you underspend on them?
The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE: I am happy to take the question.
The PRESIDENT: I warn the Hon. John Graham for the second time. He will be called to order if he interjects again.
Ms Abigail Boyd: Point of order: I am not sure if the Leader of the House has forgotten the question that I asked. To ensure the answer is directly relevant, the question was: How many additional people in New South Wales will be plunged into poverty from 1 April as a result of the Federal Government withdrawing its additional COVID support? The second part of the question was: What specific things is the New South Wales Government doing to assist those people who will be suddenly plunged into poverty?
The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE: I thought I was being entirely relevant to the question.
The PRESIDENT: I thought the Minister was being relevant, but I was distracted by interjections. I believe the Minister was being directly relevant. However, the Minister has noted the point of order.
The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE: What I say in response to the member's question is to identify what the Government is doing to help people who in fact would fall through the net as a result of the withdrawal of JobKeeper and the like. What I can say is that this is certainly a government people can rely on to develop opportunities for assistance if they do fall through that net. The Government will work hard to make sure that no‑one falls into poverty. But if there are people whose circumstances have been reduced, what I would say to the member is that she ought to be confident that this is a government which will look after those people.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (12:22): I ask a supplementary question. Will the Leader of the House elucidate further on what the Government is doing specifically in relation to these particular people who will be newly plunged into poverty on 1 April?
The Hon. DAMIEN TUDEHOPE (Minister for Finance and Small Business) (12:22): I thought I had answered that question. I have to say the question assumes we will have a whole cohort of people who will fall into poverty. I do not necessarily accept the premise of that assumption. What ought to be looked at is how in fact this Government can stimulate the economy with a jobs program to make sure as many people find a job and stay in a job when JobKeeper finishes. Certainly, this Government is focused on job creation. I have come in here time after time and talked about the jobs creation programs that the Government has in place. On the face of it, those programs appear to be working. I do not want to be accused of hubris here, but the unemployment figures have consistently been reducing. In answer to the member's question, I say to her that the answer for those people who are coming off the JobKeeper program is to look at the jobs creation programs of the Government.
For the full transcript see Hansard here.