House debates

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Bills

Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017; Second Reading

4:15 pm

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs) Share this | Hansard source

The Prime Minister is just the member for Warringah in a more expensive suit—thank you, Deputy Speaker.

Schedule 2 of the bill relates to the automation of income stream review processes. This is a measure that we welcome, and one that will improve the accuracy and efficiency of the social security system and reduce the regulatory burden on income stream providers and recipients of social security payments. From 1 January 2018 a six-monthly electronic data collection process will be introduced for income stream information from financial service providers. Recently we have seen just how disastrous things can be when the social security system is not running at its best. Many in my community that I represent—as I am sure is the case for many other MPs in this place—got in touch with me to express their worry, concern and dismay at the letters that they had received from Centrelink which claimed that they owed money, but the debts that were owed were actually inaccurate and grossly overestimated. This proved deeply upsetting for many, and it is something that this government should do all it can to ensure never happens again. A more regular and accurate reporting system is a good place to start. The bulk of the measures in this bill, unfortunately, will leave many hundreds of thousands of Australians worse off, particularly through the family tax benefit freezes.

It is hard to believe that the government would resurrect measures from their disastrous first budget, which really, in retrospect, led to the member for Warringah being deposed by the current Prime Minister on the basis of poor economic management. But here we are, with these unfair cuts coming up again and again. This government's priorities are enshrined in this bill. They are the wrong priorities. They attack the weak, the vulnerable and the poorest in our community, yet at the same time the government offers tax cuts to the wealthiest individuals in Australia and the largest businesses, with turnovers of more than a billion dollars. That tells you everything about this government's twisted budget priorities, and that is why I and my Labor colleagues are opposed to this reform.

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