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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...

Power play: will the Energy Supplement be saved?

Recent media reports have suggested the Government may drop or modify legislation to close-off the Energy Supplement payment to new welfare recipients, in order to secure crossbench support for separate company tax measures. A Bill to close the Energy Supplement to all new income support recipients—including pensioners, allowance recipients and veterans’ payment recipients—has been before the House of Representatives since May 2017 but is yet to be debated. 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...

Do waiting periods for income support improve employment outcomes? Lessons from Belgium

Since 2013 the Government has sought to introduce a four-week waiting period for the most work-ready new claimants of Youth Allowance (Other) and Special Benefit who are aged under 25 years. During this waiting period, new claimants would be required to undertake a number of job search activities in order to qualify for income support after their waiting period has been served. The stated objective of the waiting period measure is to ‘set the clear expectation that young people must make every effort to maximise their chances of successfully obtaining work’. There are very few international examples of up-front waiting periods for income support. If there could be said to be a &... 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...

Working age population welfare dependence continues to fall

Relatively low unemployment rates and the effect of a series of changes to eligibility for some payments has seen the proportion of the working age population receiving income support continue to decline, since peaking at over 25% in 1994. 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...

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