Legislation aiming to make both parties in a relationship responsible for welfare fraud has passed its first reading in Parliament.
Under the new offence of relationship fraud, a person would be liable for the debt incurred by their partner fraudulently claiming a benefit, and could also be fined or imprisoned.
Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says there are people who work and profit from their partners' benefits.
He says it is unfair that someone committing benefit fraud is prosecuted while their partner can avoid charges altogether.
Mr Borrows says the new law will share the liability between spouses.
The Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill passed its first reading by 103 votes to 17, and will now go to select committee.