Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has refused to say whether the Newstart allowance is adequate to pay for basics like food and heating.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has repeatedly avoided saying whether the Newstart payment is enough to live on at a time when there have been widespread calls to increase it.
In an interview with Sky News political editor David Speers on Sunday, Ms Ruston was asked whether Newstart was adequate to put food on the table and pay for heating during the winter.
"I have not said that it will be easy to live on Newstart," she replied.
Asked again whether it was adequate, the minister repeated: "As I said, it wouldn't be easy."
"It's a safety net payment, it never was meant to be a replacement for a wage or a salary. It is there as a safety net to assist people while they haven't got a job."
Mr Speers asked the question several more times, to which Ms Ruston made similar responses.
"I have answered the question and I absolutely remain totally committed to helping anybody that is on Newstart who wants a job to get a job," she said.
Asked whether the government is considering an increase in Newstart, Ms Ruston said: "The prime minister has made it very clear that currently we are not considering an increase in Newstart. What we are doing is focused on getting people into work."
There have been widespread calls to increase the Newstart payment beyond its twice yearly indexation to inflation from welfare groups, economists, the Reserve Bank, federal Labour and the Greens, as well as former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce.