Senate debates

Tuesday, 9 October 2012


Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Incentives to Work) Bill 2012; In Committee

5:21 pm

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary for School Education and Workplace Relations) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the government I should indicate that we will be opposing the Greens amendments. It would come as no surprise, since the nature of those amendments essentially would make the provisions in this bill—other than the liquid assets limit—null and void, but there are a few matters I think I should highlight. Senator Siewert characterises matters in a way which I do not believe accurately depict the situation.

She indicates, in referring back to Ms Macklin's speech in 2005, that the circumstances are now exactly the same. I would not accept that claim in many respects. I could occupy the Senate's time now by going into the detail of quite a variety of matters that have changed, not only the ones has she highlighted in this bill itself with the more favourable provisions around liquid assets but a range of other measures that would affect sole parents and indeed low-income families that mean employment participation has been fostered far better today than it was back in 2005. But I would like to highlight at this stage, in indicating the government's position, that we are dealing with provisions that have been described and are still being described as transitional. I quipped a moment ago to Senator Sinodinos that the grandfathering provisions that were introduced in 2005 were perhaps not well designed because they have now left us in a situation where we have the majority of families under these arrangements not covered by grandfathering provisions and indeed we have some who remain so whilst they continue to have children. Perhaps back in 2005 had the grandfathering provisions been designed in such a way as to preserve circumstances for the parents rather than any future children, we would not be in the situation that we are in today. I do not believe that fostering arrangements that maintain incentives to remain welfare dependent in the long term without more genuine transitional arrangements is appropriate. As I have indicated, the government's position is not to support the amendments.