Treasurer Scott Morrison has poured cold water on growing calls to increase unemployment benefits in Tuesday's federal budget.
A rare alliance of business, industry and community groups is calling for an increase to the Newstart allowance, arguing the rate is so low it makes it hard to search for work.
"Well, there were 410,000 jobs created last year, which I think provide a counter-factual to that," Mr Morrison told Fairfax Media.
Liberal MP Julia Banks threw the cat among the pigeons after claiming she could live on the $40 per day jobless payment, with critics quick to point out she owned a handful of houses and drew generous allowances.
Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer has refused to repeat the claim.
"I'm not going to personalise these things," Ms O'Dwyer told the ABC.
However, the minister conceded Newstart was not a "generous" payment, arguing the welfare measure was not designed as a long-term income source.
"Newstart is a payment designed to be a stop-gap before people get a job," Ms O'Dwyer said.
"Because at the end of the day, the best form of welfare is actually getting a job."
The Business Council of Australia and the Australian Industry Group, among others, have argued the Newstart allowance is insufficient to allow unemployed people to look for work.
Ms O'Dwyer said the federal government needed to balance providing support for the unemployed against avoiding taxing income-earners too heavily.
"What we want to do is create the right economic framework to actually encourage more jobs in the economy," she said.
"We've seen more people be able to get back into the workforce, and Newstart is one of those payments that can support people while they're getting back to work."