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Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Page: 6836

Ms MACKLIN (JagajagaMinister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs) (10:13): The Family Assistance and Other Legislation Amendment Bill contains six measures, five from the 2011-12 budget and one minor non-budget measure. Three of the budget measures introduced in this bill involve important changes that will deliver a fairer, sustainable and more targeted family support system that focuses on low- and middle-income families and families with dependent children in study or training. First, the bill will align the maximum child age eligibility for family tax benefit part A with a reduction in their youth allowance age of independence from 1 January 2012. This change recognises that young people aged 22 and over are considered independent and from 1 January 2012 may be able to access youth allowance independent of their parents' income, subject to means testing and academic progress rules.

In addition, the bill makes amendments to some indexation arrangements for family assistance and paid parental leave. The bill provides that indexation will be paused until 1 January 2014 for the higher income-free area for family tax benefit part A, the family tax benefit part B income limit and the baby bonus income limit. This builds upon the reforms announced in the 2009-10 budget that were designed to better target the family payment system to low- and middle-income families.

For paid parental leave, which is a new entitlement, indexation of the paid parental leave income limit will not commence until 1 July 2014. This will maintain consistency with the pausing of indexation for the baby bonus income limit. The bill also pauses indexation of family tax benefit end-of-year supplements until 1 July 2014. No family will lose any family payments as a result of these changes unless their income rises.

This bill also delivers important reforms to assessments for the disability support pension. This was a 2010-11 budget measure that was brought forward as part of the recent 2011-12 budget to start in September 2011 rather than January 2012. The bill reforms assessments for the disability support pension to help Australians with disability into work wherever possible, while continuing to provide an essential safety net for people unable to support themselves. Under the new assessment process, most people who apply for DSP will be required to have tested whether they can find suitable employment with the help available through, for example, employment services, retraining or rehabilitation. This requirement will not apply to a person with a severe disability or illness whose impairment is assessed at 20 points or more on one impairment table. The changes make sure assessments for the disability support pension focus on people's ability, not their disability. They will help people with disability get back to work wherever possible.

The final budget measure in this bill relates to the Cape York Welfare Reform trial, which is currently running in the communities of Aurukun, Coen, Hope Vale and Mossman Gorge. The trial is a partnership between these communities, the Australian government, the Queensland government and the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership. In the 2011-12 budget the government committed $16.1 million for a proposed extension of the trial for an additional year. The trial will not be extended without consultation with the Cape York communities. However, while these discussions take place, the government is ensuring that the necessary enabling provisions are put in place to allow income management under the trial to continue for an additional year under any extension to the trial. The bill also includes a minor non-budget measure which clarifies that Aboriginal land trusts established under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 are not Commonwealth authorities to which the Public Works Committee Act 1969 applies.

I thank the contributors to the debate and commend the bill to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Menzies has moved as an amendment that all words after 'that' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. The immediate question, is that the amendment be agreed to.

Question put.

The House divided. [10:23]

(The Speaker—Mr Harry Jenkins)

Question negatived.

Original question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.