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Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Page: 4475


Dr SOUTHCOTT (4:28 PM) —I move:

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

 “whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House:

(1)   notes that the Australian Labor Party opposed the repeal of the employment entry payment in 1996 and 1999;

(2)   recalls that the Member for Lilley said in March 1999 that removing the employment entry payment would put ‘up a roadblock for people to move from welfare to work’;

(3)   notes that recipients of the Disability Support Pension and recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance with a limited work capacity who move into work will not receive the $312 payment in future;

(4)   notes that recipients of Carers Payment, Mature Age Allowance, Youth Allowance, Newstart Allowance, Special Benefits, Widow Allowance and Parenting Payments who move into work will not receive the payment of $104 in the future;

(5)   calls on the Government to release the numbers of recipients of income support payment who will be affected by this measure; and

(6)   calls on the Government to indicate what impact this decision will have on workforce participation”.

The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Employment Entry Payment) Bill 2008 repeals the employment entry payment, which is currently given to job seekers who gain employment after 12 months or more of unemployment. It provides a payment of $104 to job seekers who are in receipt of an eligible Centrelink payment. Job seekers who are in receipt of a disability support pension or who have a partial work capacity and are on Newstart or youth allowance may be eligible for the higher rate of $312. These payments can only be claimed once in a 12-month period.

We have to say that the Labor Party have had a change of heart on the employment entry payment because they did oppose the repeal of the employment entry payment in 1996 and 1999. The member for Lilley, now the Treasurer, said on 9 March 1999 that the employment entry payment was a measure ‘which encourages the movement from welfare to work’. The current Leader of the Opposition, also on 9 March 1999, said, ‘We should be about encouraging people in employment rather than imposing additional burdens upon them.’ The current Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs again was vocal in opposing taking away the employment entry payment. All of these payments were introduced to assist people into employment.

The Labor Party is saying one thing in opposition and another thing in government. We also see that people who move from a disability support pension into work will now not be getting $312 to assist them with whatever they like—transport, clothing. That will be taken away on 1 July 2008 and will be replaced with nothing—so much for the compassion of the Australian Labor Party. This has been replaced with nothing. This is simply a savings measure.

The opposition raised some questions in Senate estimates to find out how many people will lose the $312 payment and how many people will lose their $104 payment. The department was unable to provide an immediate answer but has undertaken to provide an answer on notice. The people who will be most disadvantaged by this decision will be those in receipt of a disability support pension who are enrolled with a Disability Employment Network provider. And, like job seekers engaged with the Job Network, these job seekers have no access to the job seeker account, money which can in essence be used for a similar purpose to the employment entry payment.

We are in the position where something is being removed from income support recipients and we do not yet know, in some of these cases, what it will be replaced with. Certainly from 1 July 2008 to 1 July 2009 it will be replaced with nothing and there will be no additional compensation available for these people. This is $60 million coming straight out of the pockets of people on disability support pension, parenting payment, carers payment, widows allowance and so on. The opposition has moved an amendment to note:

   ... that the Australian Labor Party opposed the repeal of the employment entry payment in 1996 and 1999;

   (2)   recalls that the Member for Lilley said in March 1999 that removing the employment entry payment would put ‘up a roadblock for people to move from welfare to work’;

   (3)   notes that recipients of the Disability Support Pension and recipients of Newstart Allowance and Youth Allowance with a limited work capacity who move into work will not receive the $312 payment in future;

   (4)   notes that recipients of Carers Payment, Mature Age Allowance, Youth Allowance, Newstart Allowance, Special Benefits, Widow Allowance and Parenting Payments who move into work will not receive the payment of $104 in the future;

   (5)   calls on the Government to release the numbers of recipients of income support payment who will be affected by this measure; and

   (6)   calls on the Government to indicate what impact this decision will have on workforce participation”.

With those remarks, I thank the House.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott)—Is the amendment is seconded?


Mr Byrne —The amendment is lapsed.


Mr Somlyay —I second the amendment.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The amendment is seconded. The original question was that this bill be now read a second time.


Mr Byrne —Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The amendment was not seconded. As you know, there was no-one in the House when there was a call for a seconder of the amendment and a speaker was on his feet. Therefore, I say, the amendment lapses.


The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I was calling for a seconder to the amendment. I called twice. I did pause. The amendment has been seconded.