Minister rules out lifting Newstart rates

Social Services Minister Christian Porter has ruled out lifting the basic rate of Newstart unemployment payments.

Jobless Australians shouldn't hold their breath for a welfare payments boost as the Turnbull government focuses on finding money for income tax relief.

Unemployed Australians receive about $540 a fortnight in Newstart allowance.

Mr Turnbull was out and about on Wednesday pledging that the coalition's next tax priority was to lower middle-income tax rates while bringing the budget back into balance.

The pronouncement drew an immediate response from some community groups arguing the government's focus should be on raising the basic rate of Newstart.

But Social Services Minister Christian Porter has rejected the idea.

"At the moment I don't see there is a strong case for that," Mr Porter told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

The minister acknowledged Newstart was a modest payment and hard to live off alone.

"But the reality is that the overwhelming majority of people on Newstart receive multiple payments," Mr Porter said.

"We think that when you actually drill down into the detail of the system the multiplicity of payments that people get means it is a workable system."

Australia's peak welfare body has warned against raiding the government revenue "piggy bank" to pay for personal tax cuts.

ACOSS CEO Cassandra Goldie said government revenues needed to be strengthened to pay for essential services like the National Disability Insurance Scheme and health care.

"Now is not the time to raid the public revenue piggy bank for another round of unfunded tax cuts," Dr Goldie said in a statement.

''As surely as night follows day, an unfunded tax cut now will be followed by cuts to spending on health, education and social security."

Quizzed on whether he had been approached by the prime minister to find extra savings, Mr Porter said he was always looking at ways to make the welfare system sustainable.

He said the government had been able to slow the rate of spending growth projected under Labor to the tune of $83 billion.

"The answer to the question of how would you pay for middle income earning tax cuts in Australia is to say that it would have been utterly impossible to ever do anything like that if you'd had to spend an extra $83 billion on welfare," Mr Porter said.

Source AAP

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