Friday, 10 February 2017

Not content with last year's omnibus bill, Turnbull unleashed his inner b@stard on the poor again in 2017

Pick a paragraph, almost any paragraph - if you are from a working class family someone you care about is likely to find themselves affected.

The First Omnibus Bill……

Turnbull Government, Budget Savings (Omnibus) Bill 2016 as passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate on 15 September 2016, assented to 16 September 2016:

the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to establish a minimum repayment threshold for HELP debts of two per cent when a person’s income reaches $51 957 from the 2018-19 financial year; and replace the Higher Education Grants Index with the consumer price index for the purposes of indexing all grants and regulated student contribution amounts; the Higher Education Support Act 2003 and Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to discontinue the HECS-HELP benefit from 1 July 2017;
the Social Security Act 1991Social Security (Administration) Act 1999Farm Household Support Act 2014 and Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to discontinue the job commitment bonus;
the Australian Renewable Energy Agency Act 2011 to reduce the agency’s available appropriation;
the Private Health Insurance Act 2007 to pause the income thresholds for the Medicare levy surcharge and the government rebate on private health insurance for a further three years from 1 July 2018;
the National Health Reform Act 2011 to abolish the National Health Performance Authority; the Aged Care Act 1997 to: increase the secretary’s compliance powers in relation to reviews of care recipient appraisals submitted by aged care providers to receive Commonwealth subsidies;
abolish adviser and administrator panel arrangements; and require approved providers to notify the secretary of certain changes to any key personnel in certain circumstances;
the Age Discrimination Act 2004Dental Benefits Act 2008 and Human Services (Medicare) Act 1973 to close the Child Dental Benefits Schedule from 31 December 2016 and establish the Child and Adult Public Dental Scheme from 1 January 2017;
the Social Security Act 1991Social Security Legislation Amendment (Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Periods and Other Measures) Act 1997 and Farm Household Support Act 2014 to remove the exemption from the 104 week newly arrived resident’s waiting period for new migrants who are family members of Australian citizens or long-term permanent residents;
the Social Security Act 1991Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 and Student Assistance Act 1973 to cease the student start-up scholarship payment from 1 July 2017;
five Acts to apply an interest charge to outstanding debts owed by former recipients of social welfare payments who have failed to enter into, or have not complied with, an acceptable repayment arrangement;
five Acts to enable the making of departure prohibition orders to prevent certain social welfare debtors from leaving the country;
the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999Paid Parental Leave Act 2010Social Security Act 1991 and Student Assistance Act 1973 to remove the six-year limit on welfare debt recovery; the Social Security Act 1991 and Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to provide that parental leave payments and dad and partner pay payments are included in the income test for income support payments;
the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 and Social Security Act 1991 to change the way fringe benefits are treated under the income tests for family assistance and youth income support payments and for related purposes; the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999 to align carer allowance and carer payment start day provisions;
the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 and Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 to pause indexation for family tax benefit (FTB) Part A, the primary earner income limit for FTB Part B and the Paid Parental Leave income limit for a further three years from 1 July 2017;
the Social Security Act 1991 and Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 to remove the pension income and assets test exemptions currently available to pensioners in aged care who rent out their former home and pay their aged care accommodation costs by periodic payments;
the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 and Social Security Act 1991 to remove the exemption from the income test for FTB Part A recipients and the exemption from the parental income test for certain dependent young people receiving youth allowance and ABSTUDY living allowance;
the Social Security Act 1991 to provide that certain persons cannot be paid social security payments when they are in psychiatric confinement because they have been charged with a serious offence;
six Acts to prevent new recipients of welfare payments or concession cards from being paid the energy supplement from 20 March 2017;
the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 to reduce the refundable and non-refundable rates of the tax offset available under the research and development tax incentive for the first $100 million of eligible expenditure;
six Acts to require larger entities to provide payroll and superannuation information at the time it is created through the single touch payroll reporting framework; and
the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004 to create a single appeal path for the review of original determinations made by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission.

The Second Omnibus Bill……

Turnbull Government, Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017, presented in the House of Representatives, 8 February 2017:

A Bill for an Act to amend the law relating to family assistance, social security, paid parental leave, veterans’ entitlements, military rehabilitation and compensation and farm household support, and for related purposes

This bill contains the following Schedules:
1. Payment rates
The family tax benefit Part A standard fortnightly rate will be increased by $20.02 for each FTB child in the family aged up to 19. An equivalent rate increase, of around $19.37 per fortnight, will apply to youth allowance and disability support pension recipients aged under 18 and living at home. These increases will apply from 1 July 2018.
2. Family tax benefits Part B rate
From 1 July 2017, the Bill will introduce a reform to family tax benefit Part B that removes entitlement to FTB Part B for single parent families who are not single parents aged 60 or more or grandparents or great-grandparents, from 1 January of the calendar year their youngest child turns 17.
3. Family tax benefit supplements
This Schedule will phase out the family tax benefit Part A supplement for families with an adjusted taxable income of $80,000 a year or less by reducing it to $602.25 a year from 1 July 2016, and to $302.95 a year from 1 July 2017. It will then be withdrawn from 1 July 2018. The family tax benefit Part A supplement has already been withdrawn for families with an adjusted taxable income over $80,000 a year under the Budget Savings (Omnibus) Act 2016. The family tax benefit Part B supplement will also be phased out. It will be reduced to $302.95 a year from 1 July 2016, and to $153.30 a year from 1 July 2017. It will then be withdrawn from 1 July 2018.
4. Jobs for Families Child Care Package
The purpose of Schedule 4 is to introduce key aspects of the Jobs for Families Child Care Package, as announced in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 Budget. The Schedule will, through the introduction of a new Child Care Subsidy and other enhancements, deliver a simpler, more affordable, more flexible and more accessible child care system for families.
5. Proportional payments of pensions outside Australia
This Schedule reduces from 26 weeks to six weeks the period during which age pension, and a small number of other payments with unlimited portability, can be paid outside Australia at the basic means-tested rate. 4 After six weeks, payment will be adjusted according to the length of the pensioner’s Australian working life residence.
6. Pensioner education supplement
This Schedule ceases pensioner education supplement from the first 1 January or 1 July after the day the Act receives Royal Assent.
7. Education entry payment
This measure ceases the education entry payment from the first 1 January or 1 July after the Act receives Royal Assent.
8. Indexation
This Schedule implements the following changes to Australian Government payments:
· maintain at level for three years from 1 July of the first financial year beginning on or after the day this Act receives Royal Assent the income free areas for all working age allowances (other than student payments) and for parenting payment single; and
· maintain at level for three years from 1 January of the first calendar year beginning on or after the day this Act receives Royal Assent the income free areas and other means test thresholds for student payments, including the student income bank limits.
9. Close the energy supplement to new welfare recipients
This Schedule ceases, from 20 September 2017, payment of the energy supplement to recipients who were not receiving a welfare payment on 19 September 2016 and closes the energy supplement to new welfare recipients from 20 September 2017.
10.Stopping the payment of pension supplement after six weeks overseas
This Schedule will stop the payment of pension supplement after six weeks temporary absence overseas and immediately for permanent departures.
11.Automation of income stream review processes
This Schedule will allow for the automation of the regular income stream review process by enabling the Secretary to require income stream providers to transfer a dataset to the Department of Human Services (DHS) on a regular basis. 5
12.Seasonal horticultural work income exemption
Schedule 12 to the Bill provides a social security income test incentive aimed at increasing the number of job seekers who undertake specified seasonal horticultural work, such as fruit picking.
13.Ordinary waiting periods
This Schedule makes amendments to extend and simplify the ordinary waiting period for working age payments.
14.Age requirements for various Commonwealth payments
This Schedule provides that young unemployed people aged 22 to 24 would no longer be eligible for newstart allowance or sickness allowance until they turn 25 years of age and would, instead, be able to claim and qualify for youth allowance. To enable this, youth allowance for all types of people who can satisfy the activity test, will be available to people who have not yet reached 25.
15.Income support waiting periods
This Schedule introduces a four-week waiting period, for job ready young people who are looking for work, to receive income support payments. During this fourweek period, job seekers under 25 years of age who have been classified as job ready (Stream A) by the Job Seeker Classification Instrument will also be required to complete assigned activities, through a new program, RapidConnect Plus, that will help them prepare for and find work.
16.Other waiting period amendments (Rapid Activation of young job seekers)
This Schedule implements the Rapid Activation of young job seekers 2015-16 Budget measure.
17.Adjustments for Primary Carer Pay
This and the following Schedule introduce the revised arrangements for the Paid Parental Leave scheme announced in the 2015-16 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook and previously introduced in the Fairer Paid Parental Leave Bill 2016, which will now be withdrawn. The measure is changed in that the maximum PPL period for which a person may be paid parental leave pay is increased from the current 18 weeks to 20 weeks. The measure will commence on the first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October that is 9 months after the date the Act receives royal assent, with an earliest commencement date of 1 January 2018.
18.Employer Opt-In (PPL) Schedule
18 removes the employer paymaster role in administering the Paid Parental Leave scheme.

Australian Financial Review graphic, 9 February 2017:

A Plea to see reason……

Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), media release, 8 February 2017:

ACOSS urges Parliament to reject latest attempt to cut incomes of poorest in new Omnibus Bill

ACOSS today urged the Federal Parliament to stand firm against measures in the new Government Omnibus Bill that will cut the incomes of some of the poorest people, including families, to fund child care reforms.

“This is the latest attempt by the Government to push through harsh cuts that will rip $7 billion from the social security budget. It includes previously rejected ‘zombie’ measures, such as the five-week wait for unemployment payments, further cuts to family payments, and abolition of the energy supplement, which will slash the incomes of two million future recipients of income support,” said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

“The so-called concessions the Government has made will be wiped out by other changes in the Bill, leaving many low-income people worse off.

“Of course we all want greater support for families to get better quality childcare but it cannot be funded on the backs of some of the most disadvantaged people in our country.

“This is not the way to build a strong community – caring for each other through all stages of our lives has served our nation well. This new bill risks weakening our social fabric.

“The increase to the Family Tax Benefit Part A for families with children by $10 a week does not make up for cuts to the supplements. A sole parent with two children aged 13 and 15 will still lose between $14 and $20 per week, or around $1,000 a year.

“Although this is less of a hit than under the previous proposal, it will still severely impact single parents, most of whom are struggling to keep a roof over their heads and feed their children as well as provide for them in the new school year.

“We are concerned the new Bill also includes unfair measures previously and repeatedly rejected by Federal Parliament and the broader community, such as making young people who become unemployed wait five weeks to receive income support.  This measure will not create jobs and merely punishes people who lose one.

“Abolishing the energy supplement will cut between $4-$7 a week from people on the lowest incomes, including pensioners, students, families, and people locked out of paid work.

“We have been consistent in our opposition to any watering down of paid parental leave and oppose any weakening of the current system, which currently ranks second to last in the OECD.

“This zombie Bill would only serve to increase poverty and inequality in Australia and Parliament must reject it,” Dr Goldie said.

More information on ‘zombie’ measures:

No comments: