Purpose of the Bill
The Social Services Legislation Amendment
(Simplifying Student Payments) Bill 2016 (the Bill) gives effect to a
package of measures announced in the 2016-17 Budget.
The purpose of these measures is two-fold:
to align means testing of student payments with other social
security payments; and
to automate processes for issuing health care cards and updating
the Australian Statistical Geography Standard remoteness structure (used to
assess eligibility of student payments).
The Minister for Social Services (Minister), the Hon Christian Porter
MP, stated that the measures in the Bill support future welfare reform by
aligning payment settings across the social security system; simplifying the
administration of payments; and make eligibility for payments fairer.
Key provisions of the Bill
The Bill is comprised of three schedules proposing changes to the Social
Security Act 1991 (Social Security Act).
Schedule 1—Means testing for social
Schedule 1 would simplify means testing for student payments by:
removing the exemption from the assets test for Youth Allowance
and Austudy recipients whose partner receives income support, thus making all
recipients of student payments subject to the same level of assessable assets
including interests in companies in the asset test for student
payment recipients, thus aligning it with the social security means test rules
making regular gift payments from immediate family members exempt
from the assets test for student payments, thus aligning it with the rules for
pension payments (Part 3); and
including tax free pensions and benefits as income for the
parental income test for student payments, thus aligning it with the income
test for Family Tax Benefit (Part 4).
These measures would commence from 1 January 2017, or the first 1
January or 1 July after Royal Assent.
The measures are expected to save $0.778 million over the forward
Schedule 2—Health care cards
Schedule 2 would make amendments to allow for health care cards to be
automatically issued to all students receiving income support from 1 January
This measure is expected to cost $0.726 million over the forward
Schedule 3—Remoteness Structure
Schedule 3 would allow for the Australian Statistical Geography
Standard (ASGS) remoteness structure in the Social Security Act to be updated
automatically after a new document is published by the Australian Statistician.
The ASGS remoteness standard is used to assess eligibility for student payments.
This measure has nil financial impact and would commence on 1 January
2017, or the first 1 January or 1 July after Royal Assent.
Consideration of the Bill by other committees
Scrutiny of Bills
At the time of tabling this report, the Senate Standing Committee for
the Scrutiny of Bills Committee had not made any comments on the Bill.
At the time of tabling this report, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on
Human Rights had not made any comments on the Bill.
Conduct of the inquiry
The provisions of the Bill were referred to the Community Affairs
Legislation Committee on Thursday 13 October 2016 for inquiry and report by 7
The proposals to refer the Bill requested that the committee consider the
impact of the Bill on young people.
Details of the inquiry, including a link to the Bill and associated
documents, were place on the committee's website.
The committee wrote to 57 organisations and individuals inviting submissions by
24 October 2016. Submissions continued to be accepted after that date.
The committee received two submissions to the inquiry. Submissions
accepted by the committee are listed at Appendix 1. The committee decided not
to hold a public hearing for this inquiry.
The committee thanks those organisations that made submissions to the
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