The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child
Care Reform) Bill 2017 (Omnibus Bill) seeks to reintroduce measures in the Jobs
for Families Child Care Package, from the Education and Training portfolio, and
a range of new and previously introduced social services measures to improve
the fairness and sustainability of government payments from the Social Services
The current measures and their previous iterations in various bills are outlined
Key provisions and purpose of the bill
The Omnibus Bill is comprised of 18 schedules and seeks to amend the A
New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999, A New Tax System (Family
Assistance) (Administration Act 1999, Social Security Act 1991 (SS Act),
Social Security (Administration) Act 1991 (SS Admin Act), Paid Parental
Leave Act 2010 (PPL Act) and various other Acts.
Schedules 1-3 – Family Payments
Schedules 1 to 3 of the Omnibus Bill propose to:
increase the fortnightly rates for Family Tax Benefit (FTB)
Part A by $20.02 for each FTB child in the family aged up to 19 years. An
equivalent rate of increase of around $19.37 would apply to youth allowance and
disability support pension recipients aged under 18 and living at home.
remove entitlement to FTB Part B for single parents under 60
years of age, or grandparents or great-grandparents from the start of the
calendar year their youngest child reaches age 17;
phase out FTB Part A supplement by reducing it to $692.25 per
year from 1 July 2016, and to $302.95 per year from 1 July 2017;
phase out FTB Part B supplement by reducing it to $302.95 per
year from 1 July 2016, and to $153.30 per year from 1 July 2017; and
remove FTB Part A and FTB Part B supplements completely from 1
Previous consideration of the
The Community Affairs Legislation Committee (committee) notes that
Schedules 1 to 3 reintroduce measures previously introduced in the Social
Services Legislation Amendment (Family Payments Structural Reform and Participation
Measures) Bill (No.2) 2015 (Family Payments Bill 2015), and the Social Services
Legislation Amendment (Family Payments Structural Reform and Participation
Measures) Bill 2016 (Family Payments Bill 2016).
The Family Payments Bill 2015 was referred to the committee on 3
December 2015 for inquiry and report by 1 March 2016.
Due to the prorogation of Parliament, the Family Payments Bill 2015 lapsed
on 17 April 2016 and its provisions were reintroduced into the 45th
Parliament by the Hon Christian Porter MP on 1 September 2016.
The 2016 iteration of the Family Payments Bill included a minor change
relating to the commencement date for Schedule 2, which was changed from 1 July
2016 to 1 July 2017.
The provisions of the Family Payments Bill 2016 were referred to the
Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee (Education and Employment
committee) for inquiry and report by 10 October 2016.
The Education and Employment committee conducted two public hearings in
October 2016 and heard from various child care providers, childhood advocacy
groups, the Mitchell Institute and the Department of Social Services and
Department of Education and Training.
The Education and Employment committee recommended that the Family Payments
Bill 2016 be passed.
Changes in the Omnibus Bill
The Omnibus Bill reintroduces most of the measures introduced in the
2015 and 2016 iterations of the Family Payments Bill, with the exception of some
of the measures in schedule 2 to the bills to introduce a new rate structure
for FTB Part B.
The FTB Part A rate will be increased by $20.02 per fortnight, almost
double the $10.08 increase proposed in the Family Payments Bill 2015 and Family
Payments Bill 2016.
Schedule 4 – Jobs for Families
Child Care Package
This schedule proposes to:
cease the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate and replace
them with a new Child Care Subsidy (CCS) which is subject to an income and
activity test; and
introduce a new Additional Child Care Subsidy (ACCS), available
under certain circumstances and at various rates.
Previous consideration of the
Schedule 4 reintroduces measures that were previously introduced in
the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care
Package) Bill 2015 (Jobs for Families Bill 2015) and Family Assistance
Legislation Amendment (Jobs for Families Child Care Package) Bill 2016 (Jobs
for Families Bill 2016).
The provisions of the Jobs for Families Bill 2015 were referred to the
Education and Employment committee for inquiry and report by 17 March 2016 with
the committee subsequently receiving an extension to 4 April 2016.
The Education and Employment committee recommended that the Jobs for Families
Bill 2015 be passed.
The provisions of the Jobs for Families Bill 2016 were referred to the
Education and Employment committee in conjunction with the Family Payments Bill
2016 for inquiry and report by 10 October 2016.
The Education and Employment committee recommended that both bills be passed.
The committee notes that the provisions of Schedule 4 to the Omnibus
Bill are identical to the provisions of the Jobs for Families Bill.
Schedules 17 and 18 – Paid Parental
Schedules 17 and 18 propose to amend the PPL Act to provide that:
paid parental leave (PPL) under the Paid Parental Leave Scheme
will only be provided to parents who have no employer provided primary carer
leave, or whose employer provided paid primary carer leave is for a period less
than 20 weeks or is paid at a rate below the full-time national minimum
remove the obligation for employers to act as paymaster and
administer government-funded PPL payments to eligible employees, unless an employer
chooses to manage the payment to employees and the employee agrees to the
employer paying them.
Previous consideration of the
Schedules 17 and 18 reintroduce measures that were previously introduced
in the Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill 2016 (FPPL Bill). The FPPL Bill was
referred to the committee for inquiry and report by 15 February 2017.
The committee conducted a public hearing on 1 February 2017 and heard
evidence from various academics, women and child advocacy groups and peak bodies
and the Department of Social Services.
In its report the committee noted that:
The Explanatory Memorandum to the Omnibus Bill states that
the Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill 2016 will be withdrawn following the
introduction of the revised PPL scheme arrangements contained in the Omnibus
The committee proposes to consider the concerns raised and
the evidence received in the committee's inquiry into the Fairer Paid Parental
Leave Bill 2016 in conjunction with its consideration of the provisions of the
Changes in the Omnibus bill
The Omnibus Bill increases the period of government-funded PPL to
20 weeks as opposed to 18 weeks under the FPPL Bill. The Omnibus Bill
also includes a minor change to the commencement date for these measures to
provide that the amendments commence on the first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or
1 October after the end of the period of 9 months on the day the Act
receives Royal Assent.
Schedule 18 of the Omnibus Bill also includes a minor amendment to the
title from 'Employer opt-in' to 'Removal of parental leave pay mandatory
Other provisions of the bill
Schedules 5 and 10 – Pensioner
payments and supplements outside Australia
Schedule 5 proposes to reduce from 26 weeks to six weeks the period
during which age pension and other payments with unlimited portability can be
paid outside Australia at the means-tested rate. After six weeks the payment
will be adjusted according to the length of the pensioner's Australian working
Schedule 10 proposes to cease the payment of pension supplement after
six weeks temporary absence overseas and immediately for permanent departures.
Schedule 6 and 7– Education
Schedule 6 seeks to amend the SS Act and SS Admin Act to cease the
pensioner education supplement which is currently available to certain income
support recipients at the rate of $62.40 per fortnight or $31.20 per fortnight,
depending on the person's study load.
Schedule 7 seeks to amend the SS Act, SS Admin Act and Veterans'
Entitlements Act 1986 to cease the education entry payment which is
currently available to eligible long-term income support recipients as an
annual lump sum payment of $208.
Schedule 8 – Indexation of certain
This schedule proposes to amend the current rules for indexation of
income free areas to provide that indexation of the income free areas of all
working age allowances and parenting payment single and other means test
thresholds for student payments is maintained at level for a period of three
Schedule 9 – Closing energy
supplement to new welfare recipients
This schedule proposes to remove the energy supplement for new welfare
recipients from 20 September 2017. Welfare recipients who are paid the energy supplement
with their payment prior to 20 September 2016 will continue to receive the
energy supplement from 20 September 2017, provided they continue to meet the
Schedules 13, 14 and 15 – Waiting
periods and entitlement for certain payments
Schedule 13 proposes amendments to the SS Act to extend and simplify the
ordinary waiting period for working age payments.
Schedule 14 proposes to extend youth allowance (other) from 22 to 24
years of age, and remove entitlement to newstart allowance and sickness
allowance for young unemployed people aged 22 to 24.
Schedule 15 proposes to introduce a four week waiting period for job
seekers aged under 25 to receive income support payments. Job seekers aged
under 25 years who have been classified as job ready will be required to
complete certain pre-benefit assigned activities to help them prepare for work.
Consideration of the bill by other committees
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human
The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (human rights
committee) deferred its consideration of the Omnibus Bill on 16 February 2017.
The human rights committee did not release its consideration of the Omnibus
Bill prior to the preparation of this report.
Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny
The Senate Standing Committee on the Scrutiny of Bills (scrutiny of
bills committee) sought advice from the Minister in relation to:
the retrospective commencement of Part 1 of Schedule 3 (Family
Tax Benefit Part A) on 1 July 2016 and what effect this will have on
new section 201A (Part 1 of Schedule 4) which proposes to use an
offence-specific defence that reverses the evidential burden of proof;
payment of the Energy Supplement (Schedule 9) to recipients
between 20 September 2016 and 19 September 2017, whether the provisions
are retrospective and the justification for this.
The scrutiny of bills committee noted its concern regarding the breadth
and nature of the powers in section 199G, item 261 of Schedule 4 and new subsection
19DA(5) which allows delegation of legislative power. The scrutiny of bills committee
drew these concerns to the attention of Senators and the Senate Regulations and
The scrutiny of bills committee also queried the appropriateness of
providing strict liability offences with penalties above 60 penalty units which
is inconsistent with the Guide to Framing Commonwealth Offences.
The scrutiny of bills committee received a response from the Minister on
2 March 2017. The scrutiny of bills committee did not release its
consideration of the minister's response prior to the preparation of this
Conduct of the inquiry
On 9 February 2017, the Senate referred the provisions of the Omnibus Bill
to the Community Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 20
The committee sought an extension of the reporting date to 21 March 2017.
Details of the inquiry, including a link to the Omnibus Bill and
associated documents, were placed on the committee's website.
The committee wrote to 215 organisations and individuals inviting submissions
by 3 March 2017. Submissions continued to be accepted after that date.
The committee received 68 submissions to the inquiry and held a public
hearing in Canberra on 9 March 2017. Submitters and witnesses are listed at
Appendices 1 and 2.
The committee thanks those individuals and organisations that made
submissions to the inquiry and gave evidence at its public hearing.
Note on references
References to the committee Hansard is to the proof Hansard.
Page numbers may vary between the proof and the official Hansard
Navigation: Previous Page | Contents | Next Page