The Australian Greens have today taken a stand against Tony Abbott's budget, opposing the Social Services Amendment (Budget Measures Number 6) Bill in the Senate as the Government and ALP combined to support a range of budget cuts through Parliament.
"This Bill hurts families, people with disabilities, single parents and students," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.
"The measures in this compromised piece of legislation are part of a budget that targets the most vulnerable members of our community, as NATSEM and Treasury's own modelling have pointed out, and they have passed the Senate today after the Government and ALP joined forces.
"This Bill will see thousands of people under the age of 35 on the disability support pension reassessed, with a view to dumping them onto Newstart. This is about cutting costs, rather than helping people into work. People under the age of 35 with a disability are extremely worried and concerned about their future, and by the prospect of being left to live below the poverty line on Newstart and facing an even greater challenge to finding secure work.
"The Bill also contains the especially cruel cut to portability of the disability support pension, reducing it from 6 weeks to 4 weeks. This measure will save the Government just $5 million- a tiny amount in the context of their budget- but it will have a significant impact on the lives of many people with disability.
"I have been contacted by people who have been saving for years to be able to go on a trip. Sometimes it is to spend time with their family; other times it is actually to see the world, just like everybody else wants to travel. There is no rational, fair-minded reasoning for this particular measure, other than demonising those on income support.
"Other changes in this Bill, including those to the family tax benefit, will make things harder for families, students and single parents. We need to look at these measures and the changes to family tax benefits in the context of the other budget measures this Government is planning to bring through - measures they remained committed to despite the clear harm they will cause to Australia's most vulnerable people.
"Many thousands of Australians will be deeply disappointed in the Senate for passing these cruel measures," Senator Siewert concluded.
Measures in the Government's Bill:
- Review disability support pension recipients under age 35 against revised impairment tables and apply the Program of Support requirements.
- Generally limit the overseas portability period for disability support pension to 28 days in a 12-month period from 1 January 2015.
- Remove relocation scholarship assistance for students relocating within and between major cities from January 2015.
- Pause indexation for two years of the assets value limits for all working age allowances, student payments and parenting payment single from July 2015.
- Pause indexation for three years of the assets test free areas for all pensions (other than parenting payment single) from July 2017.
- Limit the six-week overseas portability period for student payments.
- Exclude from the social security and veterans' entitlements income test any payments made under the new Young Carer Bursary Programme from 1 January 2015.
- Include untaxed superannuation income in the assessment for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card (with products purchased before 1 January 2015 by existing cardholders exempt from the new arrangements), and extend from six to 19 weeks the portability period for cardholders.
- Limit the family tax benefit Part A large family supplement to families with four or more children from July 2015.
- Remove the family tax benefit Part A per child add on to the higher income free area for each additional child after the first from July 2015.
- Improve targeting of family tax benefit Part B by reducing the primary earner income limit from $150,000 a year to $100,000 a year from July 2015.