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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2265


Senator WOODLEY (12.03 p.m.) —The Australian Democrats are opposed to the increases the government is seeking to implement to penalty periods for unemployed people who commit an activity test breach. I will give more detailed reasons for our position shortly. At this stage I move:

4.Government amendment No.1 (enhanced reciprocal obligations), page 1, proposed subclause (3A), omit "4 July 1994", substitute "1 July 1995".

This amendment will delay the commencement of these increased deferment periods until 1 July 1995. While the government amendments have been presented under the title of reciprocal obligations, the only other white paper initiative to be introduced in July 1994 is the increased rate of payment of the jobstart subsidy. The youth training allowance will not be introduced until 1 January 1995. The more flexible income support arrangements, including the extension of allowable activities under the activities test and the ability to advance future income support payments, will not be introduced until March next year. The introduction of the parenting allowance, the changes to the allowance income test and the changes to eligibility for the partner allowance will not occur until July 1995. Finally, and very importantly, the white paper itself on page 109 cites 1995-96 as the first full year of the jobs compact.

  At the committee hearing last Friday officers from the department made much of the increase in the case management of clients. That is certainly a welcome move, but it is not expected to be fully implemented for quite some time—certainly not before the beginning of 1995. For these reasons the Democrats believe that, if the proposed increased penalties are to be approved by this chamber, they should not be introduced until 1995. We believe it is important to be giving positive encouragement to unemployed people before increasing the overhanging threat of penalties.