Why Social Services needs more than short-term fixes

There’s big challenges in the Social Services portfolio, beyond current stoushes in the Senate. Will new minister Scott Morrison lead the department in longer-term problem-solving?

Scott Morrison’s appointment as Minister for Social Services in late December 2014 has been seen as an important step for the Abbott government as it moves towards its second budget. The tasks he faces have been variously characterised in the media as “stopping the welfare” and “stopping the bludgers”.

The Department of Social Services is the largest spending federal government department. The 2014‑15 budget included $146 billion of welfare spending, or 35% of total budget expenditure. In addition to responsibility for welfare, family support, seniors, aged care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, child care has been added to the portfolio.

Morrison will be a member of cabinet’s Expenditure Review Committee. He is:

“… responsible for driving the Abbott government’s welfare reform strategy that is designed to increase the economic participation of Australians and to ensure the long-term sustainability of Australia’s welfare safety net.”

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