Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 4) Bill 2014

Bills Digest no. 49 2014–15

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WARNING: This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

This Bills Digest should be read in conjunction with the Bills Digests for the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 and the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014

Michael Klapdor and Luke Buckmaster
Social Policy Section 
5 November 2014

 

Contents

List of abbreviations

History of the Bill

Structure of the Bills Digest

Purpose and structure of the Bill

Overview

Committee consideration

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Policy position of non-government parties/independents

Position of major interest groups

Financial implications

Key issues and provisions

Concluding comments

 

Date introduced:  2 October 2014

House:  House of Representatives

Portfolio:  Social Services

Commencement:  various dates set out in in the table at clause 2 of the Bill.

 

List of abbreviations

Abbreviations Definition
CPI Consumer Price Index
DSS Department of Social Services
DSP Disability Support Pension
EdEP Education Entry Payment
FA Act A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999
FA Admin Act A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999
FTB Family Tax Benefit
FTB-A Family Tax Benefit Part A
FTB-B Family Tax Benefit Part B
MTAWE Male Total Average Weekly Earnings
No. 1 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014
No. 2 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014
No. 4 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 4) Bill 2014
No. 5 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 5) Bill 2014
No. 6 Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 6) Bill 2014
PES Pensioner Education Supplement
PPS Parenting Payment Single
SS Act Social Security Act 1991
SS Admin Act Social Security (Administration) Act 1999
Seniors Supplement Bill Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Seniors Supplement Cessation) Bill 2014
VE Act Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986
WWP War Widow/er’s Pension

History of the Bill

All of the main legislative amendments required to implement the 2014–15 budget measures in the Social Services Portfolio were previously proposed in two omnibus Bills:

Neither of those Bills has proceeded beyond the second reading stage in the Senate, most likely because the Government was unable to secure their passage due to opposition to various measures from the Australian Labor Party (Labor), the Australian Greens (the Greens), minor parties and independent senators. Both Bills were discharged from the Notice Paper in the Senate on 28 October 2014.

It appears that in order to secure passage of those measures which were supported by either Labor or the Greens, the Government has reintroduced measures from the No. 1 Bill and the No. 2 Bill in four new Bills:

The Greens previously stated that they ‘could’ support the measures proposed by the Seniors Supplement Bill.[7] However, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has since ruled out supporting the Seniors Supplement Bill, stating: ‘We ain’t going to support it’.[8] Labor has expressed support for the measures proposed by the No. 6 Bill.[9] The No. 4 Bill contains measures from the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills which are due to commence from Royal Assent or in 2015. It does not appear at the time of writing this Bills Digest that these measures are supported by Labor or crossbench senators. The No. 5 Bill contains measures from the No. 2 Bill which are due to commence from 2017 or later. At the time of writing this Bills Digest these measures were not supported by Labor or crossbench senators.

Structure of the Bills Digest

The provisions in this Bill are equivalent to certain provisions of the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills. Background and analysis of the measures proposed in this Bill were provided in the Bills Digests for the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills.[10]

As analysis and discussion about the relevant provisions has already been provided, this Bill Digest will briefly set out the particular amendments proposed in this Bill, highlight the differences between those in the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills and those in the No. 4 Bill, and set out new issues of relevance to this Bill.

Purpose and structure of the Bill

The Bill proposes to amend the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 (the FA Act),[11] the Social Security Act 1991 (the SS Act),[12] the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 (the SS Admin Act),[13] the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (the VE Act)[14] and a number of other Commonwealth Acts in order to implement a range of social services budget measures. The measures were previously proposed by the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills. Table 1 sets outs the measures in the No. 4 Bill and the relevant schedules in the previous Bills (with links to the relevant sections of the previously Bills Digests).

Table 1: Measures proposed by the Bill and provenance in previous social services budget measures Bills

Measure Previous Bill
Sch. 1—Pause indexation of the income test free areas for all working age allowances (other than student payments) and for Parenting Payment Single (PPS) for three years from 1 July 2015 Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014—Sch. 3
Sch. 1—Index PPS to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) only, removing benchmarking to Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) from 1 January 2015 No. 1 Bill—Sch. 3
Sch. 1—Pause the indexation of several Family Tax Benefit (FTB) income test free areas for three years from 1 July 2015 No. 1 Bill—Sch. 3
Sch. 1—Pause indexation of the income test free areas and other means test limits for student payments for three years from 1 January 2015 Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014—Sch. 1
Sch. 2—Pause indexation of the maximum and basic rates of Family Tax Benefit Part A (FTB-A) and the maximum rate of Family Tax Benefit Part B (FTB-B) for two years from 1 July 2015 No. 1 Bill—Sch. 7
Sch. 2—Reduce the FTB end-of-year supplements, close to their 2004 values, and ceasing indexation from 1 July 2015 No. 2 Bill—Sch. 10
Sch. 2—Limit FTB-B to families with children under six years of age from 1 July 2015 (with transitional arrangements for existing recipients applying for two-years) No. 2 Bill—Sch. 10
Sch. 2—Introduce a new FTB allowance for single parents receiving the maximum rate of FTB-A for each child aged 6–12, from 1 July 2015, to partially make up for the loss of FTB-B No. 2 Bill—Sch. 10
Sch. 3—Extend the application of the one-week Ordinary Waiting Period to all working age payments, limit exceptions from this period and make clarifying amendments, from 1 January 2015 No. 1 Bill—Sch. 6
Sch. 4—Cease payment of the Pensioner Education Supplement from 1 January 2015 No. 2 Bill—Sch. 6
Sch. 5—Cease payment of the Education Entry Payment from 1 January 2015 No. 2 Bill—Sch. 7
Sch. 6—Raise the qualifying age for Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance from 22 years to 25 years (and raise the ceiling age for Youth Allowance from 21 years to 24 years) from 1 January 2015 No. 2 Bill—Sch. 8
Sch. 7—From 1 January 2015, amend participation requirements for those aged under 30 in receipt of Youth Allowance (Other) or Newstart Allowance; introduce six-month waiting periods for new applicants for these payments aged under 30; and, only allow these payments to be paid for periods of six‑months at a time for recipients aged under 30. No. 2 Bill—Sch. 9
Sch. 8—Remove the capacity for veterans’ Disability Pension to be back payed by up to three-months. No. 2 Bill—Sch. 12

Sources: P Yeend and L Buckmaster, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014, Bills digest, 14, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014; C Ey, M Klapdor, M Thomas and P Yeend, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, Bills digest, 16, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

Overview

The No. 4 Bill contains some of the more contentious measures from the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills which were intended to commence in 2015 or upon Royal Assent. Measures such as the proposed six-month exclusion periods for job-seekers receiving Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance aged under 30, limitations on eligibility for FTB-B and changes to the indexation of FTB payment rates and allowance income free areas have attracted considerable attention and criticism.[15] See the Bills Digests for the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills for a discussion of these issues.

Committee consideration

At the time of writing this Bills Digest, the No. 4 Bill had not been referred to any committees for inquiry and report. The measures in the No. 4 Bill were previously considered by the Senate Community Affairs Committee in its inquiry into the provisions of the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills.[16]

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

At the time of writing this Bills Digest, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights had not reported on the No. 4 Bill. The Committee considered the measures in its reports on the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills. For most of the measures, the Committee sought further information from the Minister for Social Services in regards to their compatibility with human rights.

For the majority of measures reintroduced in the No. 4 Bill, the Committee was satisfied with the Minister’s response and with the compatibility of the measures with human rights. However, in regards to the exclusion periods for jobseekers receiving income support aged under-30, proposed by Schedule 7 of the No. 4 Bill, the Committee considered that ‘the measure is incompatible with the right to social security and right to an adequate standard of living’.[17] The Committee also found that the exclusion period change and the proposed changes to the qualifying age for Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance were ‘incompatible with the rights to equality and non‑discrimination on the basis of age’.[18]

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

As required under Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 (Cth), the Government has assessed the Bill’s compatibility with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of that Act.[19] The Government considers that the Bill is compatible.

However, as noted above, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights found that the proposed changes to age requirements for certain payments and the exclusion period measures, as first proposed by the No. 2 Bill, were incompatible with certain human rights (identical measures are proposed by Schedules 6 and 7 of the No. 4 Bill).

Policy position of non-government parties/independents

In its response to the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills, Labor stated that it was opposed to all the measures that have been reintroduced as part of the No. 4 Bill.[20]

In their Dissenting Report to the Senate Community Affairs Committee Report on the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills, the Greens expressed concerns at the impact of the measures which are now proposed by the No. 4 Bill and indicated that they were generally not supportive of the measures.[21] The Greens were most concerned with the proposed six-month exclusion period for jobseekers aged under-30 accessing Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance which was described as the ‘most controversial measure proposed in these Bills’.[22]

As noted in the Bills Digest for the No. 2 Bill, the Palmer United Party and a number of crossbench Senators have expressed concerns with the proposed changes, particularly the six-month exclusion period proposal.[23]

Updated information on the views of the crossbench on the exclusion period measure is provided below under Schedule 7 of the ‘Key issues and provisions’ section. The Government has also signalled that it is open to negotiations on this measure in order to secure passage.[24]

Position of major interest groups

The position of major interest groups was presented in submissions and evidence to the Senate Community Affairs Committee inquiry into the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills. On 27 August 2014, dozens of community organisations from around Australia issued a joint statement on the Budget’s social security changes. The statement specifically called upon the Parliament to reject the measures proposed in the No. 4 Bill: the proposed six-month exclusion periods for jobseekers on Newstart and Youth Allowance; changes to the qualifying age for Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance; and changes to family payments ‘which will reduce support to low income families’, including changes to Parenting Payment Single (PPS).[25]

Financial implications

The financial implications of the No. 4 Bill are set out on page two of the Explanatory Memorandum.[26] It is difficult to compare all of the measures with those put forward in the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills as some components of the Schedules in the original Bills have been split. However, based on the information provided in the Explanatory Memorandum, and taking into account some of the delayed implementation of some measures, it appears that there are no notable differences in terms of the financial impact of the measures proposed by the No. 4 Bill.

Key issues and provisions

This section will provide a brief summary of the proposed measures and notable differences with the relevant provisions proposed in the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills. For detailed background information and discussion of relevant issues, see the Bills Digests for the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills.

Schedule 1—Indexation

Schedule 1 of the No. 4 Bill amends the FA Act and the SS Act to:

  • pause indexation of the income free areas for all working age allowances (other than student payments), and the income test free area for Parenting Payment Single (PPS), for three years from 1 July 2015
  • index PPS to the CPI only, by removing benchmarking to MTAWE, from 1 January 2015
  • pause indexation of several FTB income free areas for three years from 1 July 2015 and
  • pause indexation of the income free areas and other means test thresholds for all student payments, including the student income bank limits, for three years from 1 January 2015.

Differences with the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills

Schedule 1 of the No. 4 Bill replicates some, but not all, of the amendments which were contained in Schedule 3 of the No. 1 Bill[27] and Schedule 1 of the No. 2 Bill. [28] The main differences between the amendments in Schedule 1 of the Bill and the relevant items in Schedule 3 of the No. 1 Bill and Schedule 1 of the No. 2 Bill are the commencement dates:

  • the indexation pause on the income free areas for working age allowances (other than student payments) and the indexation pause on the FTB income free areas were all intended to commence from 1 July 2014 but it is now proposed they will have effect from 1 July 2015[29]
  • the change to the method for indexing PPS was intended to commence prior to the indexation event on 20 September 2014 but the No. 4 Bill proposes that the measure will commence from 1 January 2015,[30] which would affect the next indexation date on 20 March 2015 and
  • the pause on the indexation of student payment means test thresholds was intended to commence on 1 January 2015 so this remains unchanged.

The only other notable difference is that the pauses on the indexation of asset test thresholds for working age allowance payments, which was proposed by Schedule 3 of the No. 1 Bill, and for student payments, which was proposed by Schedule 1 of the No. 2 Bill, have been separated from the amendments proposing a pause on the indexation of the income free areas for these payments. The amendments proposing a pause on the indexation of the assets test thresholds are included in Schedule 2 of the No. 6 Bill.

Schedule 2—Family tax benefit

Part 1 of Schedule 2 amends the FA Act to pause indexation of the FTB-A maximum and base rate as well as the maximum rate of FTB-B for two years from 1 July 2015. Indexation of these amounts would resume on 1 July 2017.

Part 2 of Schedule 2 proposes to amend the FA Act to:

  • reduce the FTB-A end-of-year supplement from $726.35 to $602.25, and the FTB-B end-of-year supplement from $354.05 to $302.95, and to cease indexation of these amounts, from 1 July 2015
  • restrict eligibility for FTB-B to families with children under six years of age from 1 July 2015, with current FTB‑B recipients with children above six years of age able to continue receiving the payment for two years under transitional provisions and
  • introduce a new allowance for single parents on the maximum rate of FTB-A for each child aged six to 12 years inclusive from 1 July 2015, to partly make up for the loss of FTB-B.

Similar amendments to those proposed by Part 1 were contained in Schedule 7 of the No. 1 Bill. Similar amendments to those proposed by Part 2 were contained in Schedule 10 of the No. 2 Bill.

Differences with the No. 1 and No. 2 Bills

For the measure proposed in Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the No. 4 Bill, the primary difference with the similar measure proposed in Schedule 7 of the No. 1 Bill is the date of effect: the No. 4 Bill will pause indexation from 1 July 2015 rather than 1 July 2014.[31]

There are no other significant differences between the measures as they appear in the respective Bills. Some separate FTB changes that were proposed in Schedule 10 of the No. 2 Bill are now included in Schedule 9 of the No. 6 Bill. These relate to the Large Family Supplement, the per child add-on for the income test, and reducing the primary earner income limit for FTB-B from $150,000 per annum to $100,000 per annum.

Schedule 3—Waiting periods

Schedule 3 amends the SS Act to make a number of changes to Ordinary Waiting Period requirements:

  • to extend the Ordinary Waiting Period of seven days, currently applying to Newstart Allowance and Sickness Allowance, to recipients of Widow Allowance, Parenting Payment, and Youth Allowance for jobseekers
  • to provide for the current exception to the Ordinary Waiting Period on the basis of severe financial hardship to only apply if the person is currently experiencing a personal financial crisis (the circumstances under which a person will be considered to be experiencing such a situation will be prescribed by legislative instrument made by the Secretary) and
  • to clarify that the Ordinary Waiting Period is to be served after certain other relevant waiting periods or preclusions have ended.

The amendments are to commence from 1 January 2015. Similar amendments were proposed in Schedule 6 of the No. 1 Bill.

Differences with the No. 1 Bill

Other than the delayed commencement of the measure from 1 October 2014 to 1 January 2015, there are no differences between the amendments proposed by Schedule 3 of the No. 4 Bill and Schedule 6 of the No. 1 Bill.

Schedule 4—Pensioner Education Supplement

Schedule 4 amends the SS Act, the SS Admin Act, the FA Act, the Farm Household Support Act 2014[32] and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997[33] to cease payment of the Pensioner Education Supplement (PES) from 1 January 2015. The PES is a supplementary payment for pensioners (except Age Pensioners), single parents on Newstart Allowance, and some Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance (Other) recipients (who have transferred to those payments from PPS or DSP in certain circumstances) who are undertaking approved study.

No differences with the No. 2 Bill

An identical measure was proposed by Schedule 6 of the No. 2 Bill. There are no differences between those amendments and those in Schedule 4 of the No. 4 Bill.

Schedule 5—Education Entry Payment

Schedule 5 amends the SS Act, the SS Admin Act, the VE Act, the Farm Household Support Act 2014, the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936,[34] the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 and the Taxation Administration Act 1953[35] to cease payment of the Education Entry Payment (EdEP) from 1 January 2015. The EdEP is paid to eligible income support recipients to assist with the upfront costs of study. Those eligible include recipients of Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment Partnered, Partner Allowance, Widow Allowance, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment Single, Widow B Pension and Wife Pension who meet other eligibility requirements.

No differences with the No. 2 Bill

An identical measure was proposed by Schedule 7 of the No. 2 Bill. There are no differences between those amendments and those in Schedule 5 of the No. 4 Bill.

Schedule 6—Age requirements for various Commonwealth payments

Schedule 6 amends the SS Act and the Farm Household Support Act 2014 to raise the qualifying age for accessing Newstart Allowance or Sickness Allowance from 22 years to 25 years from 1 January 2015. As a result, the age requirements for Youth Allowance will be adjusted up from the current ceiling age of 21 years to 24 years.

No differences with the No. 2 Bill

Identical measures were proposed by Schedule 8 of the No. 2 Bill. There are no differences between those amendments and those in Schedule 6 of the No. 4 Bill.

Schedule 7—Exclusion periods

Schedule 7 amends the SS Act, SS Admin Act and the Farm Household Support Act 2014 to introduce a six month waiting period for all new claimants of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance (Other) under the age of 30 from 1 January 2015. During this period, claimants would be required to satisfy work search activity test requirements in order to qualify for income support at the end of the waiting period. The six month waiting period can be reduced for those claimants who have previously worked, with each year of ‘gainful work’ resulting in one month off the six-month waiting period, up to a maximum five months’ discount.

Some claimants are exempt from the waiting period. These include: people in full-time education; people who have a partial work capacity (less than 30 hours per week); a single parent receiving Family Tax Benefit (FTB) for a child; a part-time apprentice; a principal carer parent; a Stream 3 or Stream 4 job seeker (or Remote Jobs and Communities Program equivalent) under the current employment services arrangements; and people who are eligible for Disability Employment Services.[36] In a letter of clarification to the Senate Community Affairs Committee, the Department of Social Services stated: ‘in addition to principal carer parents, a parent of a Family Tax Benefit (FTB) child who is an FTB child of that parent (a parent with at least 35 per cent care of a child), including both single and partnered parents, will be exempt from serving the six month waiting period’.[37] This means that, effectively, any parent who has at least 35 per cent care of a child is exempt from the waiting period.

Following the initial six month waiting period, claimants will be paid Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance only if they participate in a Work for the Dole program for 25 hours a week for up to six months.[38] In the next six months, claimants no longer have access to income support. Instead, they may be paid the equivalent of Newstart Allowance or Youth Allowance via a wage subsidy paid to an employer if they are working.[39] During this period, claimants have access to employment services. In the next six month period, claimants are once again obliged to participate in Work for the Dole for 25 hours a week in order to receive income support.[40] This cycle continues so that claimants without exemptions will only have access to income support for six months per year until they gain employment, undertake full-time study or turn 30 years of age.

From 1 July 2015, the above arrangements are to be applied to existing recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance, as well as new claimants.

No differences with the No. 2 Bill

Identical measures were proposed by Schedule 9 of the No. 2 Bill. There are no differences between those amendments and those in Schedule 7 of the No. 4 Bill.

Government has suggested the measure may be amended to secure passage

The proposed six-month exclusion periods are one of the most contentious welfare changes arising from the 2014–15 Budget and this measure has attracted the most criticism from crossbench senators. Comments from the Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews, suggest that the Government will consider changes to the exclusion period proposals in order to secure passage of the amendments through the Senate.[41] The Minister told Guardian Australia that he would consider ‘any reasonable offer’ from crossbench Senators which would help secure their support for the various social services Budget Bills.[42]

Senator Bob Day (Family First Party) has proposed a one-month waiting period rather than six-months but, in exchange for his support for the measures, wants the Government to trial his policy for young people to be allowed to negotiate their own pay and conditions outside of the Fair Work system (allowing for below minimum wage rates to be negotiated).[43] Mr Andrews has stated that, while he could not say what the Government’s position was on any particular proposal from the crossbench, ‘one month would be better than what we’ve got now’.[44]

It is not clear if the one-month proposal would only apply to the initial waiting-period and the six-month exclusion period after six months of income support would still apply, or whether the later exclusion periods would also be reduced or removed altogether.

Another crossbench senator, Ricky Muir (Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party), has stated that he remains concerned with the proposed exclusion period measures. Senator Muir cited his own experience receiving income support in setting out his belief that there should not be any waiting period before unemployment benefits are paid: ‘Putting people who already have no money in a poverty-type situation by giving them no money is probably going to be very anti-productive’.[45]

The Palmer United Party has reportedly stated that there is ‘no chance’ it will support longer waiting periods for young people accessing income support than currently apply.[46]

Schedule 8—Date of effect for veterans’ disability pension

Schedule 8 amends the VE Act to remove three-month backdating provisions that apply to new applicants for the veterans’ Disability Pension and applicants for a higher rate of Disability Pension. Currently, under the Disability Pension provisions in the VE Act, there is a capacity to back pay up to three months prior to the date of the claim. The amendments in Schedule 8 will make the date of payment commencement the date of claim for Disability Pension, in line with commencement dates for veterans’ income support payments such as the Service Pension. The move to paying from date of claim will not affect the date of commencement for access to treatment, which will continue to be able to be backdated three months prior to the date of claim.

Backdating rules in the VE Act also apply to claims for the War Widows/ers Pension (WWP) and Orphan’s Pension and allow for backdating between three to six months prior to the date of claim (depending on the type of claim and when it is made).[47] The proposed amendments in Schedule 8 are to apply only to the Disability Pension but not these other payments, so the practice of backdating will continue to apply for WWP and Orphan’s Pension claims and grants. This inconsistency has not been explained in the Explanatory Memorandum or the Minister’s second reading speech for Bill No. 4, nor in the supporting material for Bill No. 2.

No differences with the No. 2 Bill

Identical measures were proposed by Schedule 12 of the No. 2 Bill. There are no differences between the amendments proposed in that Bill and those proposed by Schedule 8 of the No. 4 Bill.

Concluding comments

The Bill contains some of the more contentious elements of the Government’s social services budget measures. Labor remains opposed to the proposed measures and concerns have been expressed by the minor parties in regards to the changes to income support for young people, particularly the exclusion period measure. A failure to pass the Bill will have a significant impact on the Budget with more than $8 billion in savings over the forward estimates attached to the measures.

The Bill’s proposals are primarily savings measures, aimed at reducing expenditure and encouraging workforce participation, but the measures are targeted at some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Families, particularly single parents, and young unemployed people, face losing key forms of financial support as a result of these measures.

 

Members, Senators and Parliamentary staff can obtain further information from the Parliamentary Library on (02) 6277 2500.



[1].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[2].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[3].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Seniors Supplement Cessation) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[4].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 4) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[5].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 5) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[6].         Parliament of Australia, ‘Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 6) Bill 2014 homepage’, Australian Parliament website, accessed 20 October 2014.

[7].         Australian Greens, Dissenting report, Senate Community Affairs Committee, Inquiry into the provisions of the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 and the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, The Senate, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014. See also R Siewert, Greens statement on Seniors Supplement, media release, 1 October 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[8].         J Ireland, ‘Seniors supplement stand-off’, The Age, 28 October 2014, p. 5, accessed 28 October 2014.

[9].         J Macklin (Shadow Minister for Families and Payments), ‘Second reading speech: Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 6) Bill 2014’, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 October 2014, p. 9, accessed 20 October 2014.

[10].      P Yeend and L Buckmaster, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014, Bills digest, 14,
2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014; C Ey, M Klapdor, M Thomas and P Yeend, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014, Bills digest, 16, 2014–15, Parliamentary Library, Canberra, 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[11].      A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999, accessed 26 October 2014.

[12].      Social Security Act 1991, accessed 26 October 2014.

[13].      Social Security (Administration) Act 1999, accessed 26 October 2014.

[14].      Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986, accessed 26 October 2014.

[15].      D Crowe, ‘$1.2bn forgone in search for acceptable budget cuts’, The Australian, 3 October 2014, p. 2, accessed 20 October 2014; M Kenny, ‘Canberra in retreat over welfare cuts’, The Age, 2 October 2014, p. 12, accessed 20 October 2014.

[17].      Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, Twelfth report of the 44th Parliament, The Senate, September 2014, p. 73, accessed 20 October 2014.

[18].      Ibid., p. 79.

[19].      The Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights can be found at page 48 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill, accessed 30 October 2014.

[20].      One minor exception is the indexation pause on the family assets test limit for non-independent Youth Allowance recipients (proposed by item 5 of Schedule 1). Labor has stated that it would support pauses on the indexation of assets test limits for all payments. J Macklin (Shadow Minister for Families and Payments), Labor to fight Abbott’s unfair cuts to pensioners, families and young people, media release, 24 June 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[21].      Australian Greens, Dissenting report, op. cit.

[22].      Ibid., p. 67.

[23].      C Ey et al, op. cit., p. 9.

[24].      L Taylor, ‘Welfare changes: government launches new push to break legislation stalemate’, The Guardian Australia, 22 October 2014, accessed 23 October 2014.

[25].      Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Joint sector statement on budget social security changes, media release, 27 August 2014, accessed 20 October 2014.

[26].      Explanatory Memorandum, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 4) Bill 2014, p. 2, accessed 30 October 2014.

[27].      Items 1, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 9 of Schedule 3 of the No. 1 Bill.

[28].      Item 1 of Schedule 1 of the No. 2. Bill.

[29].      Item 1 of Schedule 1 of the No. 4 Bill.

[30].      Note that the Explanatory Memorandum to the No. 4 Bill suggests at various points that this measure will commence from Royal Assent—however, clause 2 of the Bill provides for all the amendments in Schedule 1 to commence from 1 January 2015. Explanatory Memorandum, Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 4) Bill 2014, pp. 1–2, accessed 30 October 2014.

[31].      Item 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the No. 2 Bill.

[32].      Farm Household Support Act 2014, accessed 26 October 2014.

[33].      Income Tax Assessment Act 1997, accessed 26 October 2014.

[34].      Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, accessed 27 October 2014.

[35].      Taxation Administration Act 1953, accessed 27 October 2014.

[36].      Department of Social Services (DSS), Working age payments, Budget fact sheet, DSS, Canberra, May 2014, p. 2, accessed 23 October 2014.

[37].      S Wilson (Deputy Secretary, Department of Social Services), Letter of clarification regarding the Department’s appearance at the Senate Budget Estimates Hearing on 4 June 2014, 4 July 2014, Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, Budget Estimates 2014–15, 2–5 June 2014, accessed 23 October 2014.

[38].      DSS, Working age payments, Budget fact sheet, op. cit.

[39].      Ibid.

[40].      Ibid.

[41].      L Taylor, ‘Welfare changes: government launches new push to break legislation stalemate’, The Guardian Australia, op. cit.

[42].      Ibid.

[43].      P Karvelas, ‘Senator pushes Newstart deal’, The Australian, 1 October 2014, p. 4, accessed 23 October 2014; J Ireland, ‘Young people should be able to negotiate own pay and conditions, says Senator Bob Day’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 August 2014, accessed 23 October 2014.

[44].      J Ireland, ‘Kevin Andrews says welfare reform a “two-term exercise”’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 October 2014, accessed 23 October 2014.

[45].      S Balogh, ‘I’ve been on dole, don’t delay payments: Muir’, The Australian, 23 October 2014, p. 4, accessed 23 October 2014.

[46].      ‘Family First Senator open to one-month wait for the dole’, The Age, 22 October 2014, p. 6, accessed 23 October 2014.

[47].      Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 (Cth), section 20, accessed 23 October 2014.

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