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Thursday, 13 October 2011
Page: 7371

Senator ARBIB (New South WalesMinister for Sport, Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness) (15:03): On 12 October Senator Fifield asked me a question about disability enterprises and the carbon price. I seek leave to incorporate additional information in response to the senator's question in my capacity representing the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

Leave granted.

The answer read as follows—

Further answer to the Question without Notice from Senator Fifield to Senator Arbib, representing Minister Macklin: Australian Disability Enterprises and the carbon price

Australian Disability Enterprises are not-for profit community organisations that provide employment opportunities in competitive business operations for people with moderate to severe disability.

The Low Carbon Communities program is an important part of the Government's plan for a Clean Energy Future.

It supports community organisations like Australian Disability Enterprises to understand and improve their energy efficiency.

The Low Carbon Communities initiative includes:

The Low Income Energy Efficiency Program, which will provide grants to consortia of community, government and energy organisations to trial ways of improving energy efficiency in low income households; and

The Community Energy Efficiency Program, which will provide grants to help community organisations such as Australian Disability Enterprises, and local councils, undertake energy efficiency upgrades and retrofits to community-use and council buildings and facilities;

Through this year's Budget, the Government also provided an extra $6.67 million in extra funding to ADEs for 2011-12 — a 3.3 per cent increase for the sector. This included:

$4.13 million for indexation

$2.04m to provide extra support to people with disability working in Australian Disability Enterprises; and

$0.5m for capital funding.

Senator McLucas was pleased to call for applications for the capital fund early last month. Australian Disability Enterprises can apply for grants up to $20,000 from this fund for capital improvements that enhance their business viability.

Most workers in Australian Disability Enterprises are also receiving the Disability Support Pension. Through this, they will be eligible for support under the Household Assistance Package.

Australians receiving Disability Support Pension will receive assistance equivalent to a 1.7 per cent increase in the maximum rate of the pension.

This means a Disability Support Pensioner on the single rate will receive $338 per year in carbon price assistance and a Disability Support Pension recipient who is the member of a couple will receive $255 per year extra.

This assistance will more than offset the average expected carbon price impact on their cost of living (a modest 0.7 per cent increase to the CPI — less than one cent for every dollar spent).

Disability Support Pension recipients will receive part of their first year's carbon price assistance through a lump sum advance payment paid between May and the end of June 2012 of $250 for a single pensioner and $190 for each eligible member of a pensioner couple.

This Clean Energy Advance will be payed before the carbon price begins. to make sure pensioners have extra money in their pockets to help meet price impacts.

This payment will cover pensioners until the first instalment of the new clean energy supplement begins to be paid or begins to accrue in March 2013.

Households will have choices about how to adjust to the increase in the cost of living resulting from the carbon price for example, putting the advance towards a more energy efficient appliance.

These payments will be automatic and people won't need to lodge a special application.

The Government understands the financial pressures on people with disability and their carers.

That is why we have delivered historic increases to the Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment ($148 per fortnight for singles and $146 per fortnight for couples combined), improved indexation to both of these payments, and introduced a new $600 annual Carer Supplement.

In shaping the Carbon Price Household Assistance, we have ensured that assistance is provided to low and middle income households and the community organisations that support them.

The Australian Government will continue to work with Australian Disability Enterprises to help them continue their good work with Australians with disability.

We are working with disability advocates and Australian Disability Enterprises to develop a ten year Vision for supported employment.

This will work toward improving access for people with disability who need supported employment, improve the experiences of people with disability in supported employment, and strengthening Australian Disability Enterprises as progressive and sustainable organisations providing inclusive supported employment.