Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland

BILLS - Social Services Legislation Amendment (Family Assistance Alignment and Other Measures) Bill 2016 - Second Reading

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (16:20): This Social Services Legislation Amendment (Family Assistance Alignment and Other Measures) Bill 2016 proposes a number of technical amendments to strengthen the legislation to better achieve its original intention. It is not controversial. Schedule 1 amends date-of-effect provisions for the calculation of family tax benefit supplements in order to prevent payment of a supplement where an entitlement would have existed had the recipient complied with existing reporting time lines. Schedule 2 consists of contingent provisions which repeal schedule 1 in the event that the government passes its family tax benefit supplement cuts, and the changes in schedule 1 then become redundant. Schedule 3 corrects an unintended consequence in the youth allowance rate calculator which results in underpayment of some youth allowance recipients.

Labor supports these technical amendments to ensure that the legislation achieves its policy intent. In fact, the original legislation around ensuring that families reconcile their income within a year in order to receive their supplements was introduced by Labor. However, if the government cared about families, they would abandon their cruel cuts that will abolish the very supplements this bill relates to-supplements that were designed as a buffer to stop families incurring debt if their income fluctuates through the year and supplements that families rely on and are factored into their budgets.

Since the 2014 budget, Labor have been fighting the Liberals' unfair cuts to families. We fought these changes because they were fundamentally unfair. They would have seen low- and middle-income families lose thousands of dollars each year. Because of Labor's campaign, the government have backed down on two of the measures from last year's budget: their plans to freeze family tax benefit rates and certain eligibility thresholds. Because of our campaign and our pressure, the Turnbull government finally scrapped its appalling cuts to grandparent carers-and I should say that Senator Smith was deeply involved in the support of grandparent carers. Because of Labor's pressure, Australian families have been protected from these harsh and unfair cuts. The Turnbull government's cuts to families will leave some families worse off than Tony Abbott's cuts would have done. There are 1.2 million families on incomes of less than $80,000 who are going to lose their FTB part A supplements, a cut of more than $700 per child every year. Around 600,000 of these families are single-parent families. Around 500,000 of these families are on the minimum rate, meaning they are on a combined family income of less than $51,000. There are 1.3 million families who will lose their FTB part B supplements, a cut of more than $350 per family every year. Again, single-parent families will be hit even harder, having their family tax benefit part B reduced to $1,000 per year when their youngest child turns 13 and then cut entirely when their youngest child turns 16.

When it comes to fairness, it seems that this Prime Minister is no better than his predecessor. He still refuses to make multinationals pay their fair share in tax. He still refuses to curb generous tax concessions for wealthy superannuants. Labor will continue to oppose those cuts.