Senate debates

Wednesday, 2 August 2023


Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Safety Net) Bill 2023; In Committee

10:28 am

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | Hansard source

r RUSTON (—) (): The coalition won't be supporting these amendments, but that's not because we don't believe that the income-free area should be increased for people to incentivise them to get more work. We know that when people report earnings they're more than twice as likely to go on to full-time employment, and we believe that increasing the income-free area is a very effective way of incentivising people to take up those extra few hours of work or possibly add to additional hours that they currently work.

The reason that we are not supporting this amendment is because we believe that the amendment that we will move shortly is a superior amendment to this. We're saying that we want to increase the income-free areas by an additional $150 per fortnight, recognising that there a range of different income-free areas that are already in existence for working-age payments. The amendment that's been put forward by the Australian Greens here proposes to put the thresholds up to $300 does not recognise the nuance that's already in our system to incentivise different people on different payments in different ways and recognise their particular circumstances—whether that be students, whether that be single parents, whether that be people who are on the JobSeeker allowance. We would certainly be encouraging those in the chamber to look at our increased income-free area amendments that are going to be moved shortly, because I think they actually reflect a much more nuanced and targeted response to incentivising Australians to get back into the workforce.

We also philosophically believe that increasing the income-free areas and taking away the barriers for people to enter the workforce, like the barrier of the amount of people's reductions in their payments when they start earning, is a much more effective way of getting people back into the workforce than just merely increasing payments by $40 a fortnight. So we commend our amendment to the chamber and, for that reason, we'll not be supporting the amendments of the Greens towards the income-free area, but we'd encourage the Greens to consider supporting our amendments to the income-free area, because they are more reflective of the nuanced circumstances of different types of income support payments.


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