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Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Page: 4477

Mr BIDGOOD (4:35 PM) —I hear what the member for Boothby has to say, but I will categorically reject each and every point. Past evaluations of the employment entry payment scheme have indicated that it does not appear to have been a major factor in influencing the person’s decision to take up work. There have also been changes to the incentive structures of the income support system and the tax system subsequent to the implementation of the employment entry payment in 1989 which mean that the assistance it provides is largely duplicated. The government is simplifying the assistance available to job seekers. This includes not only reducing the overlap and duplication in financial assistance but also building a better employment services system. Under the new employment services model, an Employment Pathway Fund will be available to job seekers. This will be able to be used to assist people with the cost of entering employment.

Other measures introduced subsequent to the last time Labor opposed the abolition of the employment entry payment in 1999 mean that now this specific form of assistance is not necessary. These include the special employment advance of 1999, the job seeker account of 2001 and working credit of 2003—all of which provide financial assistance to smooth people’s entry into work. In addition, the government is introducing a new and improved employment services model for assisting job seekers into work.

I would like to take this opportunity to say that, consistent with its theme of responsible economic management, this government has identified a number of programs that were inefficient, wasteful or largely duplicated elsewhere. The employment entry payment is one such scheme. The employment entry payment was initially introduced in 1989 to assist with the cost of taking up employment. Since then, three other schemes have been introduced which provide similar or better assistance and which are more flexible in their application. These are the special employment advance, the job seeker accounts provided via the Job Network, and the working credit. Further improvement will be implemented under the new employment services model.

The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Employment Entry Payment) Bill 2008 will repeal the employment entry payment, effective from 1 July 2008. Removal of the payment will simplify the assistance available to those commencing work, particularly in relation to the complex interactions now in place between the employment entry payment and the special employment advance; will realise savings of $60.8 million over five years; and will deliver on the government’s commitment to responsible economic management.