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Thursday, 9 March 2000
Page: 14276


Mr ANTHONY (Minister for Community Services) (9:56 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill is a part of the government's vision for a new tax system. It complements last year's tax reform legislation and particularly the family assistance package provided primarily by the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999 and the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999.

Those acts have already made the huge contribution of reducing 12 forms of assistance, currently available through the tax and social security systems, to three new family assistance payments: family tax benefit part A, family tax benefit part B and child-care benefit.

The bill refines the existing legislation package: to clarify the operation of various aspects of the family assistance law; to replace regulation making powers with substantive provisions; to insert relevant savings and transitional provisions; and to make miscellaneous technical amendments. It also makes consequential amendments to other relevant legislation.

Furthermore, the bill adjusts some family assistance policies, including:

to enable special benefit recipients who would otherwise not be eligible for family tax benefit or child-care benefit because of the residence rules to access those payments;

to ensure that a person who has only shared care of a child is assessed for rent assistance at both the `with child' and `without child' rates and paid at the higher rate;

to taper off the operation of the child-care benefit 10 per cent part-time loading that applies for care in long day care centres, to improve the treatment of customers using longer periods of care in a week;

to provide the administrative infrastructure to support the payment of child-care benefit; and

to improve the operation of certain debt related provisions.

Amendments are also made in this bill to increase the rates of CDEP participant supplement, pensioner education supplement and carer allowance by four per cent with effect from 1 July 2000. This increase will compensate recipients for the effects of the goods and services tax.

The bill also makes minor technical changes to the A New Tax System (Bonuses for Older Australians) Act 1999 to take account of the subsequent enactment of the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999.

I present the explanatory memorandum of this bill.

Debate (on motion by Mr Martin) adjourned.