Senate debates

Wednesday, 2 August 2023


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

12:09 pm

Photo of Janet RiceJanet Rice (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I move Australian Greens amendment (1) on sheet 2031:

(1) Page 33 (after line 26), at the end of the Bill, add:

Schedule 6 — Determination of a national poverty line

Social Security (Administration) Act 1999

1 After section 241


241A National poverty line

Minister to determine national poverty line

(1) As soon as practicable after the end of the 2022-23 financial year, and each later financial year, the Minister must, by notifiable instrument, determine a national poverty line for the next financial year.

Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee to give Minister advice

(2) The Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee must give the Minister written advice that relates to the determination of a national poverty line for a financial year.

(3) In considering advice to be given to the Minister under subsection (2), the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee may make provision for public consultation.

(4) The Minister must:

(a) follow the advice provided by the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee under subsection (2) in determining a national poverty line for the relevant financial year; and

(b) cause a copy of that advice to be tabled in each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the Minister receives the advice.


(5) In this section:

Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee means the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee or any body that replaces that committee.

This is about establishing a national poverty line. For too long we have seen both Labor and Liberal governments content with leaving income support payments well below the poverty line. There are numerous definitions in the community at the moment as to what the poverty line is. The Henderson poverty line is currently $88 a day. We have other poverty lines in use. It is clear, in order to be able to track poverty across Australia, that we need to have a definition.

I heard Senator Ayres saying earlier it was too complex and we can't possibly have one. That is not the situation; that is not where the current thinking is. Yes, it's complex, but we can establish one, and we should establish one. My amendment would give the recommendation to the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee to do the research to determine what the national poverty line is and then implement that recommendation.


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