Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013; In Committee
I move Greens amendment (10) on sheet 7462:
(10) Schedule 3, page 11 (line 1) to page 16 (line 21), to be opposed.
This addresses schedule 3. Schedule 3 relates to the family tax benefit and we are opposed to this schedule. This schedule seeks to limit the eligibility to family tax benefit A so that it can only be paid in respect of children aged over 16 until the end of the calendar year in which they finish senior secondary school. The amount of money saved over four years is relatively small, but during the committee inquiry we heard, I think, enough evidence to question the effectiveness of this schedule. It is a savings measure but it could have particular impacts on certain students because of the way it is being applied. Once students finish secondary school and before they go on to a possible university entrance, there is a period of time between the end of the financial year and when they start tertiary education. The issue here is that, for some students who do not get into university, there may be a period of time when they do not have any financial support. We are concerned that low-income families in particular would be most hit by this.
While in theory it sounds like a good, easy saving for the government, it could have consequences, albeit for a relatively small number of students, but those students, in low-income families that do not have that support, are always going to be the most vulnerable. Those families rely on that sort of support. For that reason, we believe this amendment is ill conceived. We are concerned about those most vulnerable low-income students—or sometimes they may in fact not be students because they do not get entrance to either tertiary education, meaning they are in the process of looking for work, or other forms of study. We are concerned, basically, about unintended consequences. So we do not support this schedule and believe it should be deleted from this package in this bill.