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Monday, 19 March 2018
Page: 1492


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister for Jobs and Innovation) (17:52): I table two supplementary explanatory memoranda related to the government amendments to be moved to this bill.

Senator Pratt: Are these the supplementary ones that are already listed on the website? Is that right?

Senator CASH: Yes.

The CHAIR: Please continue, Minister.

Senator CASH: by leave—I move government amendments (1) to (11) on sheet ES154 together:

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (cell at table item 9, column 2), omit the cell, substitute:

The first 1 January or 1 July to occur after the day this Act receives the Royal Assent.

(2) Clause 2, page 3 (cell at table item 14, column 2), omit the cell, substitute:

The first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October to occur after the end of the period of 2 months beginning on the day this Act receives the Royal Assent.

(3) Schedule 15, item 1, page 194 (line 11), omit "The Secretary must take action under this Division", substitute "This Division is about the Secretary taking action".

(4) Schedule 15, item 1, page 195 (line 4), omit "must", substitute "will usually".

(5) Schedule 15, item 1, page 195 (lines 5 to 7), omit "the participation payment must be cancelled. A participation payment must also", substitute "be cancelled. In addition, a participation payment must".

(6) Schedule 15, item 1, page 197 (after line 13), after paragraph 42AD(a), insert:

(aa) in the case where the participation payment is parenting payment—the person is not someone to whom paragraph 500(1) (ca) of the 1991 Act applies; and

(7) Schedule 15, item 1, page 197 (after line 21), after paragraph 42AE(1) (a), insert:

(aa) in the case where the participation payment is parenting payment—the person is not someone to whom paragraph 500(1) (ca) of the 1991 Act applies; and

(8) Schedule 15, item 1, page 197 (after line 31), after paragraph 42AE(2) (a), insert:

(aa) in the case where the participation payment is parenting payment—the person is not someone to whom paragraph 500(1) (ca) of the 1991 Act applies; and

(9) Schedule 15, item 1, page 199 (after line 11), after subsection 42AF(3), insert:

Special rule—discretion not to take action for certain failures

(3A) Despite subsections (1) and (2), the Secretary may decide not to make a determination under either or both of those subsections for the relevant failure if it was committed under paragraph 42AC(1) (a) or subparagraph 42AC(1) (c) (i).

Note 1: Paragraph 42AC(1) (a) relates to a failure to comply with a requirement notified under subsection 63(2) or (4). Subparagraph 42AC(1) (c) (i) relates to a failure to attend, or to be punctual for, an appointment that a person is required to attend by a notice under subsection 63(2).

Note 2: The Secretary may instead cancel or suspend the participation payment under section 80 (see section 42AS).

(3B) In deciding whether to make a decision under subsection (3A), the Secretary must have regard to any matters determined under subsection 42AR(1A) and may have regard to any other relevant matters.

(10) Schedule 15, item 1, page 209 (after line 3), after subsection 42AR(1), insert:

(1A) The Minister may also, by legislative instrument, determine matters to which the Secretary must have regard for the purposes of subsection 42AF(3B) in making a decision under subsection 42AF(3A).

(11) Schedule 15, item 1, page 209 (line 4), omit "The Minister may also", substitute "In addition, the Minister may".

Today I have moved amendments to three schedules within the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017. Amendments to two of these schedules, 6 and 10, will just postpone their start dates. These schedules relate to closing widow allowance for new entrants and ensuring that new claimants of unemployment payments connect more quickly with employment services. Amendments to the start dates for these measures are necessary due to the bill not passing before the planned 1 January 2018 commencement date.

I have moved amendments to schedule 15, which relates to the targeted compliance framework. The amendments would prevent ParentsNext participants from receiving four-week penalties for refusing to accept or voluntarily leaving work. While these penalties are appropriate when looking for work as a condition of receiving income support, ParentsNext participants are not required to look for work as a condition of receiving payment. This is because ParentsNext is a pre-employment program rather than an employment program. It connects parents of young children to services in their local community and helps them plan and prepare for employment by the time their children start school.

The amendments also address an unintended consequence of schedule 15 of the bill, identified through the implementation design process. The new compliance framework will always apply for noncompliance with mutual obligation requirements, including failure to attend an appointment with a provider noted under section 63 of the Social Security (Administration) Act. However, this section is also used by Centrelink to notify income support claimants and recipients of broader administrative requirements, such as providing documents to Centrelink, and should be dealt with through other mechanisms, rather than the compliance framework. This amendment will allow the most appropriate response to be used, depending on the nature of the failure.