Social Services Bills Resuscitated in Parliament
2 October 2014 at 1:00 pm
Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews has reintroduced all the social services measures announced in the Budget in four separate Bills to Parliament in a bid to garner Opposition support in the Senate.
“Today, we have achieved important progress, with the House of Representatives passing the first of the four bills,” Andrews said.
“Labor and the minor parties irresponsibly sought to delay measures that they actually supported for three months – that has already come at a cost to the Budget, it is reckless and irresponsible behaviour.
“We have always said that we will work cooperatively, purposefully and methodically with other parties to pass our Budget measures.”
The Minister said any suggestion the Government was backing down on their Budget measures was a lie.
“We remain committed to the Budget and will work to progress all of our Budget measures,” he said,
“Our Economic Action Strategy is the only real plan to address Labor’s legacy of debt and deficit.”
The Government says it has agreed to split its contentious welfare bills so that changes supported by Labor or the Greens can be pushed through the Senate.
The Australian Council of Social Service said it believes the Senate would reject the radical social security budget measures that would cut the incomes of people living in poverty.
“We applaud the good sense of Senators who have listened to the many community voices raised against harsh budget cuts affecting people already living in poverty including young people, sole parents and pensioners,” ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said.
“We welcome indications that the Senate is prepared to support the removal of poorly targeted payments such as the Seniors Supplement for older people with over a million dollars in assets apart from their home, and the extension of Family Tax Benefit part B to families earning over $100,000,” she said.
It’s understood that the Labor Party is backing one of the four Bills which includes cuts to the Disability Support Pension .
The Australian Greens said the party has made no deal with the Government on any of the reintroduced measures.
The Greens said that while some of the Government's worst budget measures have been put on hold, Australians with disability, single parents, families and students will still lose out in a deal struck between Tony Abbott and the Opposition.
"The Government has put some of their cruellest measures on hold for now, but they have not given up the ideological war against the most vulnerable people in our community," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.
"The only deal that has been struck is between the Government and ALP to pass the Budget Measures 6 Bill, which still delivers unacceptable budget cuts.
"This Bill contains measures to reassess 28,000 people on the Disability Support Pension with a view to dumping them onto Newstart, and it will reduce the length of time DSP recipients are able to spend overseas each year.
"These are punitive measures that demonise and marginalise people with a disability, and we will not be supporting them.
"The Greens will continue to stand up and oppose the Government's cruel agenda, which targets the most vulnerable people in our community.”