Thursday, 28 June 2012
Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2011
by leave—I move Australian Greens amendments (3) to (5) on sheet 7229 together:
(3) Schedule 1, item 15, page 6 (line 24), omit "70%", substitute "50%".
(4) Schedule 1, item 15, page 6 (lines 25 to 27), omit paragraph 123XPAA(3)(b), substitute:
(b) if a lower percentage is specified in a legislative instrument made by the Minister for the purposes of this paragraph—the lower percentage;
(5) Schedule 1, item 15, page 7 (line 26), omit "100%", substitute "50%".
This kind of blew my mind. As senators will be aware, this bill was not my responsibility within the party until it got sprung on us this afternoon. In fact, the amount of income that can be quarantined could be as high as 100 per cent. People's entire income can be quarantined. What we are seeking to do with these three amendments that I have sought leave to move together is to reduce the amount of income that can be quarantined to only 50 per cent and to remove the ability of the minister to raise the amount that can be quarantined.
In the bill the minister can quarantine up to 70 per cent of a person's income but, under certain circumstances—and the minister will jump up and correct me if I have this wrong—the minister can raise the amount to be quarantined to 100 per cent. I am glad that I do not have one of these wretched little cards where somebody thousands of kilometres away can decide on my behalf that my entire income can be quarantined. This is a fairly sensible amendment and I look forward to its unanimous support. I think this actually raises serious human rights concerns. The right to social security is enshrined in international human rights conventions, which make it a fundamental part of the right to an adequate standard of living. Putting in such extreme conditionality as quarantining 70 per cent to 100 per cent of a person's social security income potentially breaches human rights obligations. I look forward to the minister apologising for what is clearly a drafting oversight, because surely this could not have made its way into the bill intentionally.