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Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2016

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2016

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(BUDGET REPAIR) BILL 2016

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by the authority of the

Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP)



 



SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(BUDGET REPAIR) BILL 2016

 

OUTLINE

 

The four measures in this Bill were included in the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2015 which lapsed at prorogation. This Bill incorporates proposed government amendments to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2015 which relate to the commencement of three of the four measures.

This Bill reintroduces three measures removed from the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Bill 2015 during its passage through the Parliament in June 2015.

F rom 1 January 2017 or, in the event that the Act receives Royal Assent after 1 October 2016, on the first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October after Royal Assent, amendments are made to reduce, from 26 weeks to six weeks, the length of time for which recipients of age pension and a small number of other payments with unlimited portability will generally be paid their basic means-tested rate while outside Australia.  After six weeks, payment will be adjusted according to the length of the pensioner’s Australian working life residence.  This is a 2015 Budget measure.

From 1 January or 1 July after the day the Act receives Royal Assent, the Bill will cease the pensioner education supplement and education entry payment.  These are two 2014 Budget measures previously introduced in the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 4) Bill 2014 (the No. 4 Bill). 

This Bill also reintroduces some changes to Australian Government payments.  These are 2014 Budget measures previously introduced in the No. 4 Bill, and reintroduced in the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Youth Employment and Other Measures) Bill 2015, which was negatived at second reading in the Senate on 9 September 2015.  These changes are:

·          maintain at level for three years the income free areas for all working age allowances (other than student payments) and for parenting payment single - from a new start date of 1 July of the first financial year beginning on or after the day the Act receives Royal Assent; and

·          maintain at level for three years the income free areas and other means test thresholds for student payments, including the student income bank limits - from 1 January of the first calendar year beginning on or after the day the Act receives Royal Assent.

Financial impact statement

MEASURE

FINANCIAL IMPACT OVER THE FORWARD ESTIMATES (SAVINGS)

Proportional payment of pensions outside Australia

$168.4 million

Pensioner education supplement

$252.4 million*

Education entry payment

$64.4 million *

Indexation

$107.4 million**

 

*          Financial impact refers to indicative estimated savings of administered funding for affected social security payments only, based on the previous commencement date of 1 January 2016.  Estimated savings are not net of implementation funding.

 

**         Financial impact refers to indicative administered funding for affected social security payments only and is not net of implementation funding

 

STATEMENTS OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

The statements of compatibility with human rights appear at the end of this explanatory memorandum.

 



SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(BUDGET REPAIR) BILL 2016

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Abbreviations used in this explanatory memorandum

·          Farm Household Support Act means the Farm Household Support Act 2014

·          Social Security Act means the Social Security Act 1991

·          Social Security Administration Act means the Social Security (Administration) Act 1999

  • Veterans’ Entitlements Act means the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986

 

Clause 1 sets out how the new Act is to be cited - that is, as the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Act 2016.

Clause 2 provides a table setting out the commencement dates of the various sections in, and Schedules to, the new Act.

Clause 3 provides that legislation specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule.

 



Schedule 1 - Proportional payment of pensions outside Australia

 

 

Summary

From 1 January 2017 or, in the event that the Act receives Royal Assent after 1 October 2016, on the first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October after Royal Assent , this Schedule reduces from 26 weeks to six weeks the period during which age pension, and a small number of other payments with unlimited portability, can be paid outside Australia at the basic means-tested rate.  After six weeks, payment will be adjusted according to the length of the pensioner’s Australian working life residence.

Background

This Schedule affects the rate of pension paid to age pension recipients and a limited number of disability support pension, wife pension and widow B pension recipients who have unlimited portability.

The amendments will reduce from 26 weeks to six weeks the period of absence from Australia after which a pension recipient’s payment is proportionalised.  After six weeks, payment will be adjusted according to the length of the pensioner’s Australian working life residence.

To retain their basic means-tested rate while overseas, a person needs 35 years’ working life residence in Australia.  Working life residence is calculated based upon the period beginning when the person turns 16 and ending when the person reaches pension age (point 1221-B1 of the Social Security Act).  If a person’s period of Australian working life residence is less than 35 years, their individual rate of pension after six weeks will be adjusted according to their years of working life residence.

The measure will reinforce and strengthen the residence-based nature of Australia’s social security system.  After a six-week absence, payment will be based on the length of time a person has resided in Australia during their working life.

The measure does not affect the length of the portability period, which continues to be unlimited.  However, the rate received after a six-week absence may change. 

The amendments will commence from 1 January 2017 or, in the event that the Act receives Royal Assent after 1 October 2016, on the first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October after Royal Assent , but will only apply to absences starting on or after commencement.  Pensioners who are overseas on the commencement date will continue to be allowed the full 26-week period of absence before their payment is potentially reduced.

Explanation of the changes

Amendments to the Social Security Act

Items 2, 3 and 4 amend sections 1220A (Proportionality - age pension rate), 1220B (Proportionality - disability support pension rate for a severely disabled person) and 1221 (Proportionality - wife pension and widow B pension rate for entitled persons).  These three sections each substitute a proportionalised rate of pension based upon a person’s Australian working life residence after 26 weeks.  In each case, the provision is amended to substitute reference to six weeks for the current reference to 26 weeks. 

Item 1 makes a consequential amendment to a note at subsection 1214(1), to refer to six weeks instead of 26 weeks.

Item 5 provides that the amendments made by this Schedule apply in relation to periods of absence from Australia starting on or after the commencement of this item.

 



Schedule 2 - Pensioner education supplement

 

 

Summary

This Schedule ceases pensioner education supplement from 1 January or 1 July after the day the Act receives Royal Assent.

Background

In broad terms, the pensioner education supplement assists people receiving certain income support payments with the ongoing costs of full-time or part-time study.  This Schedule repeals provisions that provide for pensioner education supplement, and makes related consequential changes.

The pensioner education supplement was introduced to assist long-term income support recipients improve their skills and training to be more competitive in the labour market. The pensioner education supplement is $62.40 per fortnight or $31.20 per fortnight depending on the person’s study load.

Since the introduction of the pensioner education supplement, several policies have been introduced which provide more appropriate and targeted channels of support to improve income support recipient’s employment prospects through study or training. This includes through the HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP tuition loan programmes and through the Employment Fund, which provides financial assistance to job seekers registered with an employment services provider to engage in study or training.

Additionally, income support payments, particularly youth allowance (student), austudy and ABSTUDY, are specifically targeted towards people undertaking education and training, taking into account their circumstances and needs. These student payments will continue and will not be affected by the removal of the pensioner education supplement.

Ceasing the pensioner education supplement will also help to simplify the income support system by reducing the number of payment supplements.

Explanation of the changes

Part 1 - Main amendments

Amendments to the Social Security Act

Part 2.24A of the Social Security Act provides for the payment of pensioner education supplement.  Item 17 repeals Part 2.24A.

Consequential amendments are made as set out below.

Item 1 omits ‘a pensioner education supplement,’ from subsection 7(6).

Item 2 repeals subparagraph (l)(v) of the definition of compensation affected payment in subsection 17(1).

Item 3 omits ‘ or supplement, ’ from paragraph (l) of the definition of compensation affected payment in subsection 17(1).

Item 4 repeals and substitutes paragraph (m) of the definition of compensation affected payment in subsection 17(1) to reflect the repeal of subparagraph 1061ZAAA(1)(b)(iv) by item 19.

Item 5 repeals the note at the end of the definition of approved course of education or study in subsection 19AB(2).

Item 6 repeals and substitutes the definition of independent in subsection 23(1).

Item 7 repeals paragraph (cb) of the definition of newly arrived resident’s waiting period in subsection 23(1).

Item 8 omits ‘ , a double orphan pension or a pensioner education supplement’, and substitutes ‘or a double orphan pension’ in paragraph (a) of the definition of payday in subsection 23(1).

Item 9 omits the word ‘, supplement’ from paragraph (a) of the definition of payday in subsection 23(1).

Item 10 repeals paragraph 23(4AA)(c).

Item 11 omits ‘paragraph 1061PB(1)(b)’, and substitutes ‘subsection 541B(5)’, in paragraphs 23(10F)(c) and (d).

Item 12 repeals section 119.

Item 13 repeals subsection 503AA(1).

Item 14 omits ‘(2)’ from subsection 503AA(2).  This is consequential to item 13.

Item 15 omits ‘, 569A(b) or 1061PB(1)(b)’, and substitutes ‘or 569A(b)’ in subparagraph 569H(7)(g)(iii).

Item 16 repeals subsection 1049(1).

Item 18 adds ‘and’ to the end of subparagraph 1061ZAAA(1)(b)(iii).  This is consequential to item 19.

Item 19 repeals subparagraph 1061ZAAA(1)(b)(iv).

Item 20 omits ‘ , a mobility allowance or a pensioner education supplement’, and substitutes ‘or a mobility allowance’, in section 1158.

Amendments to the Social Security Administration Act

Item 21 omits ‘allowance; or’, and substitutes ‘allowance.’, in paragraph (i) of the definition of supplementary payment in subsection 15(5).  This is consequential to item 22.

Item 22 repeals paragraph (j) of the definition of supplementary payment in subsection 15(5).

Item 23 repeals subsection 50(3).

Item 24 repeals paragraph 52(1)(h).

Item 25 omits ‘, austudy payment or pensioner education supplement’, and substitutes ‘or austudy payment’, wherever occurring in paragraphs 55(4A)(a) and (b).

Items 26 and 27 repeal paragraphs (i) and (o) of the definition of category I welfare payment and paragraphs (d) and (i) of the definition of category Q welfare payment respectively in section 123TC.

Item 28 repeals subparagraphs (a)(xiv) and (xxiii) of the definition of restrictable payment in subsection 124PD(1). Item 29 repeals paragraph (i) of the definition of social security periodic payment in subclause 1(1) of Schedule 1.

Item 30 repeals clauses 30 to 32 of Schedule 2.

Part 2 - Other amendments

Consequential amendments are also made to the Acts set out below.

Amendments to the Family Assistance Act

Item 31 omits the reference to paragraph 17(1)(c) in subparagraph 14(1A)(b)(i).  This is consequential to item 32.

Item 32 repeals paragraph 17(1)(c).

Amendment to the Farm Household Support Act

Item 33 repeals paragraph 94(i). 

Amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997

Item 34 repeals item 22A.1 in the table contained in section 52-10.

Item 35 repeals item 22A in the table contained in section 52-40.

Part 3 - Application and saving provisions

Subitem 36(1) provides that, despite the amendments to the definition of compensation affected payment in subsection 17(1) of the Social Security Act made by Part 1 of this Schedule, Parts 3.6A and 3.14 of the Social Security Act continue to apply as if those amendments had not been made.

Subitem 36(2) provides that, despite the amendments made by items 12, 13, 14 and 16 of this Schedule, sections 119, 503AA and 1049 of the Social Security Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, will continue to apply on and after the commencement of the items in relation to working out whether an approved program of work supplement or language, literacy and numeracy supplement are payable in respect of a fortnight beginning before that commencement.

Subitem 36(3) provides that, despite the amendment made by item 17 of this Schedule, Part 2.24A of the Social Security Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, will continue to apply on and after the commencement in relation to days occurring before the commencement.

Subitem 36(4) provides that, despite the amendments made by items 18 and 19 of this Schedule, paragraph 1061ZAAA(1)(b) of the Social Security Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continues to apply on and after that commencement in relation to a relevant period that began before that commencement.

Subitem 36( 5 ) provides that, despite the amendment made by item 20 of this Schedule, section 1158 of the Social Security Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continues to apply on and after that commencement in relation to days occurring before that commencement.

Subitem 36(6) provides that, despite the amendments made by items 23 and 25 of this Schedule, subsections 50(3) and 55(4A) of the Social Security Administration Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continue to apply on and after that commencement in relation to the payment of fares allowance on or after that commencement, to the extent that payment of fares allowance is being made because of the receipt of pensioner education supplement.

Subitem 36(7) provides that, despite the amendment made by item 24 of this Schedule, paragraph 52(1)(h) of the Social Security Administration Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continues to apply on and after that commencement in relation to the payment of pensioner education supplement on or after that commencement.

Subitem 36(8) provides that, despite the amendments made by items 26 to 28, Parts 3B and 3D of the Social Security Administration Act continue to apply  in relation to a payment of pensioner education supplement or an ABSTUDY payment that includes an amount identified as pensioner education supplement  that was made before, on or after commencement.

Subitem 36(9) provides that, despite the amendments made by items 31 and 32 of this Schedule, subparagraph 14(1A)(b)(i) and paragraph 17(1)(c) of the Family Assistance Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continue to apply on and after that commencement in relation to working out whether an individual satisfies the work/training/study test or has recognised study commitments before, on or after that commencement.

Subitem 36(10) provides that, despite the amendment made by item 34 of this Schedule, item 22A.1 of the table in section 52-10 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 , as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continues to apply on and after that commencement in relation to a payment of pensioner education supplement before, on or after that commencement.

 



Schedule 3 - E ducation entry payment

 

 

Summary

This Schedule c eases the education entry payment from the 1 January or 1 July after the Act recieves Royal Assent. .

Background

In broad terms, the education entry payment assists with education expenses, and is paid once a year to eligible recipients.  This Schedule repeals provisions that provide for education entry payment, and makes related consequential changes.

The education entry payment is an annual lump sum payment of $208 per year and was introduced in 1993 to assist long-term income support recipients improve or

re-build their skills and training to be more competitive in the labour market.

Since the introduction of the education entry payment several policies have been introduced which provide more appropriate and targeted channels of support to improve income support recipient’s employment prospects through study or training. This includes through the HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP and VET FEE-HELP tuition loan programmes and through the Employment Fund, which provides financial assistance to job seekers registered with an employment services provider to engage in study or training.

Additionally, income support payments, particularly youth allowance (student), austudy and ABSTUDY, are specifically targeted towards people undertaking education and training, taking into account their circumstances and needs. These student payments will continue and will not be affected by the removal of the education entry payment.

Ceasing the education entry payment will also help to simplify the income support system by reducing the number of payment supplements.

Explanation of the changes

Part 1 - Main amendments

Amendments to the Social Security Act

Part 2.13A of the Social Security Act provides for the payment of education entry payment.  Item 3 repeals Part 2.13A.

Consequential amendments are made as set out below.

Item 1 repeals subparagraph (l)(iv) of the definition of compensation affected payment in subsection 17(1).

Item 2 omits ‘allowance, payment’, and substitutes ‘allowance,’ in paragraph (l) of the definition of compensation affected payment in subsection 17(1).

Item 4 repeals table item 7 in subsection 1222(2).

Item 5 omits ‘or an education entry payment supplement’ in paragraph 1223ABAAB(1)(a).

Item 6 omits ‘benefit; and’, and substitutes ‘benefit.’ in paragraph 1223ABAAB(2)(e).  This is consequential to item 7.

Item 7 repeals paragraph 1223ABAAB(2)(h).

Item 8 repeals section 1224B.

Amendments to the Social Security Administration Act

The paragraphs set out below refer to the education entry payment.  Amendments are made to remove these references.



Item 9 repeals paragraph (c) of the definition of supplementary payment in subsection 15(5).

Item 10 repeals paragraph (d) of the definition of lump sum benefit in subsection 47(1).

Item 11 repeals paragraph (c) of the definition of household stimulus payment in section 123TC.

Amendments to the Veterans’ Entitlements Act

Part VIIAA of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act provides for the payment of education entry payment.  Item 19 repeals Part VIIAA.

 

Consequential amendments are made as set out below.

Item 12 omits the words ‘age; or’ and substitutes ‘age.’ in paragraph (c) of the definition of compensation affected pension in subsection 5NB(1).

 

Item 13 repeals paragraph (f) of the definition of compensation affected pension in subsection 5NB(1).

 

Item 14 omits the words ‘pensions, supplements and payments’, and substitutes ‘pensions and supplements’ in subsection 59M(1).

 

Item 15 omits the word ‘supplement;’ and substitutes ‘supplement.’ in paragraph 59M(1)(f).  This is consequential to item 16.

 

Item 16 repeals paragraph 59M(1)(i).

 

Item 17 omits the words ‘pensions, supplements, allowances and payments’, and substitutes ‘pensions and supplements’ in note 2 to subsection 59M(1).

 

Item 18 omits the words ‘supplement or payment’ and substitutes ‘or supplement’ in subsections 59M(2), (3) and (4).

 

Part 2 - Other amendments

Consequential amendments are made to various Acts, as set out below.

Amendment to the Farm Household Support Act

Item 20 repeals paragraph 94(e).

Amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936

Item 21 omits ‘or education entry payment’ in subparagraph 160AAAA(2)(c)(i).

Item 22 omits ‘or education entry payment’ in subparagraph 160AAAB(2)(c)(i).

Amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997

Item 23 omits the ‘education entry payment supplement under the Social Security Act 1991’ in the table item headed ‘social security or like payments’ in section 11-15.

Item 24 omits ‘purposes;’, and substitutes ‘purposes.’ in paragraph 51-35(e).  This is consequential to item 25.

Item 25 repeals paragraph 51-35(f).

Item 26 repeals and substitutes section 51-40.

Item 27 repeals paragraph 52-10(1)(za).

Item 28 repeals subsection 52-10(1J).

Item 29 repeals section 55-10.

Amendment to the Taxation Administration Act 1953

Item 30 omits ‘, 55-5 or 55-10’, and substitutes ‘or 55-5’ in paragraph 12-110(1)(c) of Schedule 1.

Part 3 - Application and saving provisions

Subitem 31(1) provides that, despite amendments to the definition of compensation affected payment in subsection 17(1) of the Social Security Act made by Part 1 of this Schedule, Parts 3.6A and 3.14 of the Act continue to apply as if the amendments had not been made. 

Subitem 31(2) provides that, despite the amendment made by item 3 of this Schedule, Part 2.13A the Social Security Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continues to apply on and after that commencement in relation to a claim for the education entry payment made by a person before that commencement, where the person was qualified for that payment before that commencement.

Subitem 31(3) provides that, despite amendments made by items 5 to 8 of this Schedule, sections 1223ABAAB and 1224B of the Social Security Act, as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continue to apply on and after that commencement in relation to payments of education entry payment supplement or education entry payment made before, on or after that commencement.

Subitem 31(4) provides that, despite the amendments of the definition of compensation affected pension in subsection 5NB(1) of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act made by Part 1, Part IIIC of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act continues to apply as if those amendments had not been made.

 

Subitem 31(5) provides that, despite the amendment made by item 19, Part VIIAA of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act , as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continues to apply on and after that commencement in relation to a claim for the education entry payment made by a person before that commencement, where the person was qualified for that payment before that commencement.

 

Subitem 31(6) provides that, despite the amendments made by items 14 and 15 of this Schedule, paragraphs 160AAAA(2)(c)(i) and 160AAAB(2)(c)(i) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 , as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continue to apply on and after that commencement in relation to payments of education entry payment made before, on or after that commencement.

Subitem 31(7) provides that, despite the amendments made by items 25, 26 and 29 of this Schedule, paragraph 51-35(f) and sections 51-40 and 55-10 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 , as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continue to apply on and after that commencement in relation to payments of education entry payment made before, on or after that commencement.

Subitem 31(8) provides that, despite the amendment made by item 28 of this Schedule, subsection 52-10(1J) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 , as in force immediately before the commencement of this item, continue to apply on and after that commencement in relation to payments of education entry payment supplement made before that commencement.



Schedule 4 - Indexation

 

 

Summary

This Schedule implements the following changes to Australian Government payments:

  • maintain at level for three years from 1 July of the first financial year beginning on or after the Act receives Royal Assent the income free areas for all working age allowances (other than student payments) and for parenting payment single; and
  • maintain at level for three years from 1 January of the first calendar year beginning on or after the Act receives Royal Assent the income free areas and other means test thresholds for student payments, including the student income bank limits.

Background

Under the current rules, income free areas and means test thresholds are indexed annually in line with movements in the Consumer Price Index.  Indexation occurs either on 1 July or 1 January, depending on the payment involved.

This Schedule pauses for three years the indexation that occurs on 1 July each year of various income thresholds that apply to certain social security benefits and allowances (other than student payments) and the income test free area for parenting payment single.  Under this measure, these amounts will not be indexed on 1 July for three years following Royal Assent. 

Similarly, the usual 1 January indexation of the income free areas and other means test thresholds for student payments will be paused for three years.  These amounts will not be indexed on 1 January for three years following Royal Assent. 

When indexation recommences, it will apply to the (paused) thresholds and there will be no catch-up in respect of indexation that would otherwise have occurred during the three-year pause.

Explanation of the changes

Amendments to the Social Security Act

Item 1 relates to the benefits and allowances ‘payment free area’ (defined in item 20AAA of the table in section 1190 of the Social Security Act).  Current subsection 1192(4AB) provides that the first indexation of amounts to which item 14AAA of the CPI Indexation Table in subsection 1191(1) relates is to take place on 1 July 2015.  This item inserts new subsection 1192(4AC), providing that amounts under this table item are not to be indexed on 1 July of the first financial year on or after Royal Assent and on 1 July of the next 2 financial years.

Item 2 adds further subsections to section 1192. 



New subsection 1192(5AAA) affects indexation provided for by item 14 in the CPI Indexation Table in subsection 1191(1).  Item 14 deals with the pension free area (which is an abbreviation for the ordinary income free area for social security pension - see item 20 of the table in subsection 1190(1)).  To the extent the pension free area relates to the Pension PP (Single) Rate calculator in point 1068A-E14, new subsection 1192(5AAA) provides it is not to be indexed on 1 July of the first financial year on or after Royal Assent and on 1 July of the next 2 financial years.

New subsection 1192(5AAB) affects indexation provided for by items 14AA (the youth allowance and austudy ordinary income free area), 14AB (the youth allowance and austudy range reduction boundary), 15 (the student income bank balance limit) and 24 (the youth allowance (non-independent) assets value limit) of the CPI Indexation Table in subsection 1191(1).  The amounts under these items are not to be indexed on 1 January of the first calendar year on or after Royal Assent and on 1 July of the next 2 calendar years.

 



STATEMENTS OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the

Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(BUDGET REPAIR) BILL 2016

 

Schedule 1 - Proportional payment of pensions outside Australia

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Schedule

From 1 January 2017 or, in the event that the Act receives Royal Assent after 1 October 2016, on the first 1 January, 1 April, 1 July or 1 October after Royal Assent , this Schedule reduces from 26 weeks to six weeks the period during which age pension, and a small number of other payments with unlimited portability, can be paid outside Australia at the basic means-tested rate.  After six weeks, payment will be adjusted according to the length of the pensioner’s Australian working life residence.

The measure affects the rate of pension paid to age pension recipients and a limited number of disability support pension, wife pension and widow B pension recipients who have unlimited portability.

Human rights implications

This measure has considered the human rights implications, particularly with reference to the right to social security contained within article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).  It is concluded that the measure does not place limitations on human rights.

The measure is not stopping a person from receiving a social security payment where they meet domestic eligibility and qualification requirements.

Pensioners, who have been granted indefinite portability, will remain eligible for the pension (both within Australia and overseas).  The proposal only affects the length of time before pensioners receive a proportional rate of pension according to their Australian working life residence.

Right to freedom of movement

The measure engages the right to freedom of movement, which is contained in articles 12 and 13 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights .  Pensioners will remain able to move freely, whether within Australia or overseas.

People who travel after the implementation date will receive their basic means-tested pension for six weeks after leaving Australia.  After six weeks’ absence from Australia, they will receive a proportional rate of pension according to their years of working life residence in Australia.

Any impact on a pensioner’s freedom of movement is reasonable and consistent with the policy objectives.

Right to social security

The measure engages the right to social security contained in article 9 of the ICESCR.

The right to social security requires that a system be established under domestic law, and that public authorities must take responsibility for the effective administration of the system.  The social security scheme must provide a minimum essential level of benefits to all individuals and families that will enable them to cover essential living costs.

The change to the rate of pension a pensioner can receive after being outside Australia for more than six weeks does not affect their ability to access social security within Australia.  The measure ensures that social security is appropriately targeted.  The measure affects those pension recipients, with indefinite portability of their payment, who would generally have spent part of their working life in another country, from which they should be able to receive a pension for their years of contributions or residence in that country.

Conclusion

These amendments are compatible with human rights.  To the extent that they may limit a person’s access to social security or freedom of movement, the limitation is reasonable and proportionate.



Schedule 2 - Pensioner education supplement

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Schedule

In broad terms, the pensioner education supplement (PES) assists students with the ongoing costs of full-time or part-time study.  This Schedule repeals provisions that provide for PES, and makes related consequential changes.

The Government remains committed to providing incentives for income support recipients to improve their employment prospects through study or training.  More appropriate channels of Government-funded study and training assistance for income support recipients are available through employment services providers and the HECS-HELP, FEE HELP and VET FEE HELP tuition loan programmes.

Human rights implications

The Schedule engages the following human rights:

Right to social security

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises the right of everyone to social security.

The amendments in this Schedule remove the PES.  PES is an additional fortnightly supplement of $62.40 for students who are undertaking at least 50 per cent of a full-time study load, or $31.20 for students with a study load below 50 per cent.

PES is available to certain recipients of social security payments and payments under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986 who are undertaking qualifying study to assist with the ongoing costs associated with study.  Qualifying study includes secondary courses, tertiary courses, open learning, Certificate courses, Bachelor degrees, Advanced Certificate courses, Graduate Certificate courses, Graduate Diplomas and Degrees, Master qualifying courses or Approved Masters by coursework programs.

The removal of PES does not limit or affect access to the right to social security. PES is not a primary social security payment to meet the regular cost of living but rather a supplement designed to assist with some of the costs associated with study, paid on top of a recipient’s primary payment.  An individual’s entitlement to primary social security payments, and other benefits, will not be affected by the cessation of PES.

To the extent that the removal of PES reduces a recipient’s overall support, this is proportionate to achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system by improving the Commonwealth’s fiscal position and simplifying the structure of the system.

Right to education

Article 13 of the ICESCR recognises the right of everyone to education.

The removal of PES, to a small extent, impacts on an individual’s ability to participate in education, particularly if they have a low income.  However, its impact on individuals is minor ($31.20 or $62.40 per fortnight depending on study load), and it does not affect a person’s entitlement to other ongoing payments and programmes designed to support individuals to engage in education.  This measure is aimed at achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system by recognising the broader and more appropriate education supports available.

In addition to student payments, such as austudy, youth allowance (student) and ABSTUDY, the Australian Government provides other programmes to assist tertiary students with the cost of their fees:

·          Students who are enrolling in a Commonwealth Supported Place for a university level qualification (that is, undergraduate level) can access a HECS-HELP loan to pay their student contribution amount.  Students accessing this loan are required to pay their debt through the tax system when they earn above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.

·          Eligible students who are enrolling in a higher-level vocational education and training (VET) qualification are able to access VET FEE-HELP, a loan scheme which assists eligible students, enrolled in diploma-level and above courses at an approved VET provider, to pay their tuition fees.

·          FEE-HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible fee paying students in non-Commonwealth Support Places (for example, post-graduate level courses at university) pay all or part of their tuition fees.

  • Eligible students who access any of the above loans can borrow up to the FEE-HELP limit to pay their fees and do not have to repay the loan until their income meets the minimum repayment threshold.

Job seekers registered with an employment services  provider may also receive assistance to engage in study or training, including financial assistance, through the Employment Fund.  Employment services providers may use the Employment Fund to help job seekers with:

 

·          employment-related training, and associated books and equipment;

·          literacy, language or numeracy assistance where places in other government funded programmes are unavailable; or

  • pre-vocational or preparatory support such as pre-apprenticeship training or pre-tertiary courses where it is not covered by other Government-funded programme.

Consequently, the removal of PES is reasonable in that access to other payments and support mechanisms to allow individuals to undertake study remains.

Conclusion

The Schedule is compatible with human rights because it does not limit the basic right to social security and any impact on the right to education is balanced with other financial support for students.  The measure is a reasonable, proportionate and necessary response to achieve the objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system by improving the Commonwealth’s fiscal position and simplifying the structure of the system.



Schedule 3 - E ducation entry payment

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Schedule

In broad terms, the education entry payment (EdEP) assists with education expenses, and is paid once a year to eligible recipients.  This Schedule repeals provisions that provide for EdEP, and makes related consequential changes.

The Government remains committed to providing incentives for income support recipients to improve their employment prospects through study or training.  More appropriate channels of Government-funded study and training assistance for income support recipients are available through employment services providers and the HECS-HELP, FEE HELP and VET FEE HELP tuition loan programs.

Human rights implications

The Schedule engages the following human rights:

Right to social security

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises the right of everyone to social security.

The amendments in this Schedule remove the EdEP.  EdEP is an additional annual supplement of $208 paid to recipients of newstart allowance, partner allowance, widow allowance, widow B pension, wife pension, parenting payment (single and partnered), disability support pension, carer payment, special benefit partner service pension and invalidity service pension.  EdEP is specifically targeted to assist with the up-front costs of education and training for those who are enrolling or commencing in an approved course of study.

The removal of EdEP does not limit or affect access to the right to social security. EdEP is not an ongoing primary social security payment to meet the regular cost of living but rather a supplement designed to assist individuals meet the up-front costs of education/training on an annual basis, paid on top of a recipient’s primary payment.  An individual’s entitlement to primary social security or Veterans’ Affairs payments, and other benefits, will not be affected by the cessation of EdEP.

To the extent that the removal of EdEP reduces a recipient’s overall support, this is proportionate to achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system by improving the Commonwealth’s fiscal position and simplifying the structure of the system.

Right to education

Article 13 of the ICESCR recognises the right of everyone to education.

The removal of EdEP, to a small extent, impacts on an individual’s ability to participate in education, particularly if they have a low income.  However, its impact on individuals is minor ($208 per annum), and it does not affect a person’s entitlement to other ongoing payments or programmes designed to support individuals to engage in education.  This measure is aimed at achieving the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system by recognising the broader and more appropriate education supports available.

In addition to student payments, such as austudy,  youth allowance (student) and ABSTUDY, the Australian Government provides other programmes to assist tertiary students with the cost of their fees:

·          Students who are enrolling in a Commonwealth Supported Place for a university level qualification (that is, undergraduate level) can access a HECS-HELP loan to pay their student contribution amount.  Students accessing this loan are required to pay their debt through the tax system when they earn above the minimum threshold for compulsory repayment.

·          Eligible students who are enrolling in a higher-level vocational education and training (VET) qualification are able to access VET FEE-HELP, a loan scheme which assists eligible students, enrolled in diploma-level and above courses at an approved VET provider, to pay their tuition fees.

·          FEE-HELP is a loan scheme that assists eligible fee paying students in non-Commonwealth Support Places (for example, post-graduate level courses at university) pay all or part of their tuition fees.

  • Eligible students who access any of the above loans can borrow up to the FEE-HELP limit to pay their fees and do not have to repay the loan until their income meets the minimum repayment threshold.

Job seekers registered with an employment services provider may also receive assistance to engage in study or training, including financial assistance, through the Employment Fund.  Employment services providers can use the Employment Fund to job seekers with:

·          employment related training, and associated books and equipment;

·          literacy, language or numeracy assistance where places in other government-funded programmes are unavailable; or

·          pre-vocational or preparatory support such as pre-apprenticeship training or pre-tertiary courses where it is not covered by other government-funded programme.

Consequently, the removal of EdEP is reasonable in that access to other payments and support mechanisms to allow individuals to undertake study remains.

Conclusion

The Schedule is compatible with human rights because it does not limit the basic right to social security any impact on the right to education is balanced with other financial support for students.  The measure is a reasonable, proportionate and necessary response to achieve the legitimate objective of ensuring the long-term sustainability of the social security system by improving the Commonwealth’s fiscal position and simplifying the structure of the system.



Schedule 4 - Indexation

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

Overview of the Schedule

This Schedule implements the following changes to Australian Government payments:

  • maintain at level for three years from 1 July following Royal Assent the income free areas for all working age allowances (other than student payments) and for parenting payment single; and
  • maintain at level for three years from 1 January following Royal Assent the income free areas and other means test thresholds for student payments, including the student income bank limits.

Human rights implications

The Schedule engages the following human rights:

Right to social security

Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognises the right of everyone to social security.

The Schedule has no effect on the right to social security.

The changes to the value of income test free areas and thresholds for certain Australian Government payments assist in targeting payments according to need.  Payments will not be reduced unless customers’ circumstances change, such as their income increasing in value.

 

Conclusion

The amendments in the Schedule are compatible with human rights because they do not limit access to social security.

 

 

[Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP]