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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2269


Senator WOODLEY (12.30 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

13.Government amendment No. 3, (enhanced reciprocal obligations), page 6, amendment 33 in Schedule 2A, omit proposed subsection 546B(1), substitute the following subsections:

"546B(1)The Secretary may determine in writing the day on which an activity test deferment period commences.".

"(1A)An activity test deferment period may not commence before the day the person to whom the period applies:

      (a)has been notified in writing of the determination; and

      (b)following receipt of that notice, has received two instalments of job search allowance as if no determination had been made.".

14.Government amendment No. 3, (enhanced reciprocal obligations), page 8, amendment 38 in Schedule 2A, omit proposed subsection 547B(1), substitute the following subsections:

"547B(1)The Secretary may determine in writing the day on which an administrative breach deferment period commences.".

"(1A)An administrative breach deferment period may not commence before the day the person to whom the period applies:

      (a)has been notified in writing of the determination; and

      (b)following receipt of that notice, has received two instalments of job search allowance as if no determination had been made.".

15.Government amendment No. 3, (enhanced reciprocal obligations), page 12, amendment 65 in Schedule 2A, omit proposed subsection 630B(1), substitute the following subsections:

"630B(1)The Secretary may determine in writing the day on which an activity test deferment period commences.".

"(1A)An activity test deferment period may not commence before the day the person to whom the period applies:

      (a)has been notified in writing of the determination; and

      (b)following receipt of that notice, has received two instalments of new start allowance as if no determination had been made.".

16.Government amendment No. 3, (enhanced reciprocal obligations), page 13, amendment 70 in Schedule 2A, omit proposed subsection 631B(1), substitute the following subsections:

"631B(1)The Secretary may determine in writing the day on which an administrative breach deferment period commences.".

"(1A)An administrative breach deferment period may not commence before the day the person to whom the period applies:

      (a)has been notified in writing of the determination; and

      (b)following receipt of that notice, has received two instalments of new start allowance as if no determination had been made.".

At the committee hearing on Friday, we heard that people who have these deferment periods imposed on them do not receive any prior notice that they are going to have their income support cut off. The Democrats believe that there cannot be any justification whatsoever for imposing these penalties without providing some warning.

  Unemployed people, and particularly the long-term unemployed, will have used up any financial resources that they may have had. Because of that, I feel it is essential that we give these people some notice so that they can hopefully arrange their financial affairs—as Senator Lees has indicated, they could perhaps approach Lifeline or one of the charities—in order to avoid problems such as eviction, bounced cheques, et cetera. While the government and the opposition might believe that it is warranted to deny a person income support for a certain period of time, they should not exacerbate this penalty by imposing the penalty without forewarning.

  Amendments Nos 13 to 16 will require the department to notify people that a deferment period is to be imposed on them and will set down that the deferment period is to take effect on the third payment after the notification is sent. I want to press the amendments. I am encouraged that the Minister for Social Security (Mr Baldwin) has indicated that he will take account of this and will try to make some administrative provision. However, I do wish to press the amendments so that, in the legislation, we ensure a notification.