Minister condemns 'underclass' comments

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston condemned Pru Goward's article about Australia's
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston condemned Pru Goward's article about Australia's "underclass".

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston has sought a please explain about former sex discrimination commissioner Pru Goward's comments calling poorer Australians "damaged".

The former NSW Liberal minister is on the federal government's advisory board for the next national plan to help end family, domestic and sexual violence against women.

Senator Ruston has condemned Ms Goward's recent Australian Financial Review article about Australia's "underclass".

It calls them "proles" who are "damaged, lacking in trust and discipline and highly self-interested".

"Since the 1950s there has been a remarkable growth in the number of proles," the article published earlier this month said.

Senator Ruston told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday nothing in the article reflected her views or those of the government.

"The comments that were in that article have certainly offended a number of Australians, probably most Australians, and they do not reflect my views whatsoever in relation to the issue that she's addressing," Senator Ruston said.

The minister has called and written to Ms Goward asking for an explanation about the article but is yet to receive a response.

"I've spoken to Ms Goward and expressed my view that the government couldn't associate itself with those comments in any way," Senator Ruston said.

Labor senator Jenny McAllister grilled her about whether it was tenable for Ms Goward to remain on the government's women's safety advisory board.

"I will reserve my decision until I was receive that response," the minister responded.

"The government doesn't seek to operate in an echo chamber.

"But I take this issue very seriously and I will have more to say possibly after I've received Professor Goward's response."

Australian Associated Press