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Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

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Impact of the new Child Care Subsidy

On 10 April 2019, the Government released data on children and families using child care services for the September 2018 quarter, the first three months of the new Child Care Subsidy (CCS). The data release provides a small snapshot into the impact of the recent changes to child care funding compared to previous quarters. Read more...

Radical ideas—the jobs guarantee

Once considered too radical to be taken seriously, ideas like the universal basic income (UBI) have now become part of mainstream debate. The most recent radical idea to enter the mainstream in the US is the jobs guarantee. Rather than offering unemployed and underemployed workers job-finding programs or training opportunities, under the jobs guarantee, the government would offer them actual jobs. A number of high profile Democrats have gotten behind the idea and it’s being debated in the pages of respectable publications like the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Newsweek, and Vox. The jobs guarantee is an unashamedly political idea. In a piece for the Nation, Se... Read more...

Bereavement Allowance, Bereavement Payments and the Welfare Reform Bill

During the Senate debate on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 (the Welfare Reform Bill), significant amendments were made to the way a proposed new lump-sum amount for newly bereaved welfare recipients would be calculated. The Senate eventually agreed to amendments proposed by Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party and supported by the Government. Under these amendments, the rate of payment for a recipient of the proposed Jobseeker Payment whose partner has recently died will be broadly equivalent to the rate of the payment for newly-bereaved people that the Government is proposing to abolish: Bereavement Allowance. Read more...

New waiting periods for migrants to access social security and family assistance payments

The 2017–18 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) includes three measures limiting access to welfare for new migrants to Australia: introducing a three-year waiting period before new residents can access Family Tax Benefit, Paid Parental Leave and Carer Allowance extending the existing Newly Arrived Residents Waiting Period that applies to some working-age payments such as Newstart and Youth Allowance from two years to three and extending the Assurance of Support requirement for family visas (where a person agrees to be financially responsible for a new migrant) from two-years to three. The measures are intended to commence 1 July 2018 and will save an estimated $1... Read more...

Polygamy, multiple relationships and welfare

Recent media reports have raised an issue with the access to welfare payments by Muslim people in multiple relationships. This FlagPost sets out the status of such relationships under social security law and how such relationships affect social security entitlements.  Read more...

Omnibus Bill compromise to find further savings from family payments

The Government and Opposition have agreed on amendments to secure passage of the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 that includes a new Family Tax Benefit (FTB) savings measure. The measure would see families with adjusted taxable income of $80,000 or more per year ineligible to receive the Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB-A) supplement from 1 July 2016. Read more...

New restrictions on disability pensioners travelling overseas

In the midst of heated debate over the Budget’s welfare reforms some significant measures have escaped the headlines, including new restrictions on Disability Support Pension (DSP) recipients travelling overseas. The measures, proposed by the Social Services and Other Legislation (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, will reduce the time disability pensioners can spend overseas from six-weeks at a time to four weeks in a 12-month period. A number of submissions to the Senate committee inquiry into the Bill, from individual DSP recipients and from welfare groups, took issue with the changes suggesting that DSP was being unfairly targeted and that the measures would increase red tape. Read more...

Paid Parental Leave: Robin Hood or piggy bank?

While there are numerous differences between the Labor and Coalition policies on parental leave pay, the most controversial is the rate of payment. While the current Government scheme is paid at the National Minimum Wage ($606.50 per week), the Coalition proposal is for parents to be paid at their full salary capped at an income level of $150,000.The difference between the two approaches highlights the complicated relationship present in both schemes between the idea of Parental Leave Pay as a workplace entitlement and a payment made through the social security system.Australia's current Paid Parental Leave scheme operates within the framework of social security benefits paid through the Dep... Read more...

Can means testing of welfare really save the budget?

One suggestion for addressing Australia's budget deficit has been to make cuts to 'middle class welfare'are'—that is, welfare payments made to households other than those with low incomes.The problem with such suggestions is that they are frequently light on details about precisely which welfare payments are the source of the 'problem' and what 'middle class' means. Nor do they tend to address the unintended consequences of making changes to eligibility for payments though tightening of means tests.One way of making cuts to middle class welfare would be to ensure that payments are means tested. The problem with this strategy is that Australia already means tests just about every possible pay... Read more...

Why the Pensioner Concession Card is so valuable

The Minister for Human Services, Senator Kim Carr, has ordered Centrelink to apologise to tens of thousands of single parents who were mistakenly told that they were no longer eligible for a Pensioner Concession Card (PCC) after being moved from Parenting Payment Single (PPS) to Newstart Allowance on 1 January 2013. The letter to parents affected by changes to PPS eligibility arising from the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Incentives to Work) Act 2012 advised them to destroy their concession cards even though most would still be eligible for a PCC. The PCC is a valuable supplementary benefit which provides access to a wide range of discounts and subsidies. The following explains... Read more...

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