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Employment and Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Welfare to Work and Other Measures) Bill 2005

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2004-2005

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (WELFARE TO WORK AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2005

 

 

 

 

SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

Amendments and Requests for Amendments to be Moved on Behalf of the Government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Circulated by authority of the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the Honourable Kevin Andrews MP )

 

 

 



 

 

EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (WELFARE TO WORK AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2005

 

OUTLINE

 

Following the inquiry on the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Welfare to Work and Other Measures) Bill 2005 and the Family and Community Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare to Work) Bill 2005 , these amendments and requests for amendments address the recommendations contained in the Report of the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee.

 

The amendments provide for increased parliamentary scrutiny through the insertion of various provisions that require the making of legislative instruments to provide guidelines in respect to the exercise of certain powers. 

 

The amendments provide an exemption from participation requirements for principal carers of large families. They also provide for a new maximum basic rate to single people who are receiving newstart allowance or youth allowance and who have been provided the large family exemption. This new maximum basic rate will be equivalent to the pension (PP) single rate. The financial impact in providing this new higher maximum basic rate is:

 

Total Expenses

 

 

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

2008-09

Total

 

$m

$m

$m

$m

$m

DEWR

0.0

0.5

0.8

2.4

3.7

 

 

The figures include net administered and departmental costs. There are no capital costs.



 

NOTES ON AMENDMENTS

 

Schedule 4, Part 1

 

Subsection 501A(1) provides that a Parenting Payment Activity Agreement with a person is to require the person to undertake one or more activities that the Secretary regards as suitable for the person. Under subsection 501A(4) the Secretary may determine, by legislative instrument, kinds of requirements that agreements must not contain. The effect of the change made by Amendment 1 is that the Secretary must make such an instrument.  Amendment 2 makes it clear that such an instrument is not intended to be an exhaustive list of matters that should not be included in agreements.

 

Subsection 502(4) is concerned with what constitutes unsuitable work. Paragraph 502(4)(j) allows the Secretary to determine that work is unsuitable ‘for any other reason’. The effect of Amendment 3 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (j).  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (j).

 

Section 502C is concerned with participation exemptions. Under paragraph 502C(2)(b) the Secretary may determine a person has an exemption if the Secretary is satisfied that there are special circumstances relating to the person’s family that make it appropriate for the person to have an exemption. The effect of Amendment 4 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (b).  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the operation of paragraph (b).

 

New section 502D of the Bill inserts exemptions from participation requirements for parenting payment recipients with disabled children and other circumstances. Amendment 5 amends item 7 of Schedule 4 with the effect that the Secretary must give a parenting payment recipient an exemption from participation requirements if the Secretary is satisfied the person is a principal carer of at least 4 children.  Subsections 5(15) to (24) which set out the requirements of being a principal carer are signposted by the new note. This amendment recognises that a parent will need to focus fully on caring responsibilities when they have four or more children who are all school-aged. 

 

Schedule 4, Part 2

 

Section 500ZA deals with what constitutes a parenting payment participation failure.  Under subsection 500ZA(2), a person will not have committed such a failure if the person satisfies the Secretary that the person had a reasonable excuse for the failure.  The effect of Amendment 6 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse.

‘Reasonable excuse’ is also relevant to the operation of paragraphs 500ZB(2)(a) and 500ZE(1)(d).  The effect of Amendments 7 and 8 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse for the purposes of those paragraphs.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse for those purposes.

 

Schedule 5, Part 2

 

Existing section 541D is concerned with what constitutes unsuitable work.  Paragraph 541D(1)(i) allows the Secretary to determine that work is unsuitable ‘for any other reason’. The effect of Amendment 9 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (i).  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (i).

 

Section 542F is concerned with exemptions. Under paragraph 542F(2)(b) the Secretary may determine a person has an exemption if the Secretary is satisfied that there are special circumstances relating to the person’s family that make it appropriate for the person to have an exemption. The effect of Amendment 10 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (b). Such an instrument is not intended to limit the operation of paragraph (b).

 

Amendment 11 amends item 25 of Schedule 5 with the effect that the Secretary must give a youth allowance recipient an exemption from the activity test if the Secretary is satisfied the person is a principal carer of at least 4 children.  Subsections 5(15) to (24) which set out the requirements of being a principal carer are signposted by the new note. The exemption can be for a period of up to 52 weeks.

 

Subsection 544B(1) provides that a Youth Allowance Activity Agreement with a person is to require the person to undertake one or more activities that the Secretary regards as suitable for the person. Under subsection 544B(1B) the Secretary may determine, by legislative instrument, kinds of activities that agreements must not contain. The effect of the change made by Amendment 12 is that the Secretary must make such an instrument. Amendment 13 makes it clear that such an instrument is not intended to be an exhaustive list of matters that should not be included in agreements.

 

Schedule 5, Part 3

 

Section 550 deals with what constitutes a youth allowance participation failure.  Under subsection 550(2), a person will not have committed such a failure if the person satisfies the Secretary that the person had a reasonable excuse for the failure.  The effect of Amendment 14 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse.

 

‘Reasonable excuse’ is also relevant to the operation of paragraphs 550B(2)(a) and 551(1)(d).  The effect of Amendments 15 and 16 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse for the purposes of those paragraphs.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse for those purposes.

 

Schedule 6, Part 1

 

Section 576 deals with what constitutes an austudy participation failure.  Under subsection 576(2), a person will not have committed such a failure if the person satisfies the Secretary that the person had a reasonable excuse for the failure.  The effect of Amendment 17 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse.

 

‘Reasonable excuse’ is also relevant to the operation of paragraph 576A(2)(a). The effect of Amendment 18 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse for the purposes of paragraph (a). Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse for those purposes.

 

Schedule 7, Part 2

 

Existing subsection 601(2A) is concerned with what constitutes unsuitable work.  Paragraph 601(2A)(j) allows the Secretary to determine that work is unsuitable ‘for any other reason’.  The effect of Amendment 19 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (j).  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (j).

 

Section 602B is concerned with exemptions from the activity test. Under paragraph 602B(2)(b) the Secretary may determine a person has an exemption if the Secretary is satisfied that there are special circumstances relating to the person’s family that make it appropriate for the person to have an exemption. The effect of Amendment 20 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (b).  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the operation of paragraph (b).

 

 

 

Amendment 21 amends item 41 of Schedule 7 with the effect that the Secretary must give a newstart allowance recipient an exemption from the activity test if the Secretary is satisfied the person is a principal carer of at least 4 children.  Subsections 5(15) to 24 which set out the requirements of being a principal carer are signposted by the new note. The exemption can be for a period of up to 52 weeks.

 

Subsection 606(1) provides that a Newstart Activity Agreement with a person is to require the person to undertake one or more activities that the Secretary regards as suitable for the person.  Under subsection 606(1B) the Secretary may determine, by legislative instrument, kinds of requirements that agreements must not contain.  The effect of the change made by Amendment 22 is that the Secretary must make such an instrument.  Amendment 23 makes it clear that such an instrument is not intended to be an exhaustive list of matters that should not be included in agreements.

 

Schedule 7, Part 3

 

Section 624 deals with what constitutes a newstart participation failure. Under subsection 624(2), a person will not have committed such a failure if the person satisfies the Secretary that the person had a reasonable excuse for the failure.  The effect of Amendment 24 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse.

 

‘Reasonable excuse’ is also relevant to the operation of paragraphs 626(2)(a) and 629(1)(d).  The effect of Amendments 25 and 26 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse for the purposes of those paragraphs.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse for those purposes.

 

Schedule 10, Part 1

 

Subsection 731B(1) is concerned with what constitutes unsuitable work.  Paragraph 731B(1)(i) allows the Secretary to determine that work is unsuitable ‘for any other reason’.  The effect of Amendment 27 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (i).  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (i).

 

Section 731DA is concerned with exemptions from the activity test. Under paragraph 731DA(2)(b) the Secretary may determine a person has an exemption if the Secretary is satisfied that there are special circumstances relating to the person’s family that make it appropriate for the person to have an exemption.  The effect of Amendment 28 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account for the purposes of paragraph (b).  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the operation of paragraph (b).

 

Amendment 29 amends item 17 of Schedule 10 with the effect that the Secretary must give a special benefit recipient an exemption from the activity test if the Secretary is satisfied the person is a principal carer of at least 4 children.  Subsections 5(15) to (24) which set out the requirements of being a principal carer are signposted by the new note. The exemption can be for a period of up to 52 weeks.

 

Subsection 731M(1) provides that a Special Benefit Activity Agreement with a person is to require the person to undertake one or more activities that the Secretary regards as suitable for the person.  Under subsection 731M(1B) the Secretary may determine, by legislative instrument, kinds of requirements that agreements must not contain.  The effect of the change made by Amendment 30 is that the Secretary must make such an instrument. Amendment 31 makes it clear that such an instrument is not intended to be an exhaustive list of matters that should not be included in agreements.

 

Schedule 10, Part 2

 

Section 740 deals with what constitutes a special benefit participation failure.  Under subsection 740(2), a person will not have committed such a failure if the person satisfies the Secretary that the person had a reasonable excuse for the failure.  The effect of Amendment 32 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse.

 

‘Reasonable excuse’ is also relevant to the operation of paragraphs 742(2)(a) and 745(1)(d).  The effect of Amendments 33 and 34 is that the Secretary must make a legislative instrument which specifies matters that are to be taken into account when considering whether the person had a reasonable excuse for the purposes of those paragraphs.  Such an instrument is not intended to limit the matters that can be taken into account when considering whether a person had a reasonable excuse for those purposes.

 

Schedule 17, Part 2

 

Amendment 35 amends new point 1067G-B3A at item 5 of Schedule 17 of the Bill  which provides a new maximum basic rate to certain recipients of youth allowance. The new higher rate which is equivalent to the pension PP (single ) rate will be also be provided to youth allowance recipients who are not a member of a couple and who have been given the exemption under new subsection 542FA(3A).  This subsection relates to exemptions for people who are the principal carer of 4 of more children. The higher rate of payment for single principal carer parents in this category acknowledges there are additional costs associated with these responsibilities.

 

 

 

Schedule 19, Part 2

 

Amendment 36 amends item 7 at Schedule 19 which provides a new maximum basic rate to certain recipients of newstart allowance. The new higher rate is equivalent to the pension PP (single) rate. Amendment 36 provides the new maximum basic rate to newstart allowance recipients who are not a member of a couple and who have been given an exemption under new subsection 602C(3A).  This subsection relates to exemptions for people who are the principal carer of 4 of more children. The higher rate of payment for single principal carers in this category acknowledges there are additional costs associated with these responsibilities.