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Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Debt Recovery) Bill 2017

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2017

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Debt Recovery) Bill 2017

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Andrew Wilkie MP

Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Debt Recovery) Bill 2017

 

 

OUTLINE

 

This bill seeks to prevent the Department of Human Services from recovering a social security debt or a family tax benefit debt from an individual if the debt is under review. The bill responds to significant community concern about false debt notices being issued by the Department and individuals being required to repay the debt immediately, even if it is later found to be incorrect.

 

FINANCIAL IMPACT

 

The bill will have no financial impact.

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Clause 1: Short Title

 

1.       This clause is a formal provision and specifies the short title of the Bill as the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Debt Recovery) Bill 2017.

 

Clause 2: Commencement

 

2.       This clause provides for the commencement of the Act on the day it receives Royal Assent.

 

Clause 3: Schedules

 

3.       This clause establishes that, as the intent of the Bill is to be realised through amendments to another Act, the Schedules of this Bill will amend that Act accordingly.

 

Schedule 1

 

A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999

 

Item 1: At the end of section 84

 

1.       Item 1 inserts a subsection 3 into section 84 of the Act which specifies that a debt must not be deducted from a person’s family tax benefit payment if a declaration has been made under sections 105C or 109AA of the Act, which are inserted by items 2 and 3 respectively.

 

Item 2: After section 105B

 

2.       Item 2 inserts a section 105C into the Act, which relates to internal reviews initiated by the Secretary.

3.       Subsection 1 specifies that deductions are not to be made from a person’s family tax benefit if the decision to make the deduction is being reviewed under section 105 of the Act.

4.       Subsection 2 specifies that a declaration made under subsection 1 must be in writing.

5.       Subsection 3 specifies that when a declaration under subsection 1 is in force, the rest of the family assistance law applies as if the decision to make deductions is not in effect.

6.       Subsection 4 specifies that a declaration made under subsection 1 takes effect on either the day it is made or earlier if it so specifies, and ceases to have effect when the review period ends or earlier if it is revoked by the Secretary.

 

Item 3: After section 109A

 

7.       Item 3 inserts a section 109AA into the Act, which relates to internal reviews initiated by the applicant.

8.       Subsection 1 specifies that the Secretary must make a declaration that deductions are not to be made from a person’s family tax benefit if the decision to make the deduction is being reviewed under section 109A of the Act.

9.       Subsection 2 specifies that a declaration made under subsection 1 must be in writing.

10.   Subsection 3 specifies that when a declaration under subsection 1 is in force, the rest of the family assistance law applies as if the decision to make deductions is not in effect.

11.   Subsection 4 specifies that a declaration made under subsection 1 takes effect on either the day it is made or earlier if it so specifies, and ceases to have effect when the review period ends or earlier if it is revoked by the Secretary.

 

Social Security Act 1991

 

Item 4: At the end of subsection 1231(2)

 

12.   Item 4 inserts a subsection 1231(2)(c) into the Act which specifies that deductions must not be made from a social security payment if a declaration made under subsection 131(1A) of the Administration Act, which is inserted by item 6, is in force.

 

Social Security (Administration) Act 1991

 

Item 5: Section 131(heading)

 

13.   Item 5 changes the heading of section 131 of the Act from “Secretary may continue payment pending outcome of application for review” to “Secretary may continue payment pending outcome of review”.

 

Item 6: After subsection 131(1)

 

14.   Item 6 inserts a subsection 131(1A) into the Act, which specifies that the Secretary must make a declaration that deductions are not to be made from a person’s social security payment (whether it is a payment made in instalments or arrears) if the decision to make the deduction is being reviewed under section 129 of the Act or otherwise.

 

Item 7: Subsection 131(3)

 

15.   Item 7 amends subsection 131(3) to specify that a declaration made under subsection 131(1A) must be in writing.

 

Item 8: After subsection 131(4)

 

16.   Item 8 outlines that when a declaration under subsection 1 is in force, the rest of the social security law applies as if the decision to make deductions is not in effect.

 

Item 9: After subsection 131(5A)

 

17.   Item 9 specifies that a declaration made under subsection 1 takes effect on either the day it is made or earlier if it so specifies, and ceases to have effect when the review period ends or earlier if it is revoked by the Secretary.

 

Item 10: Application

 

18.   Item 10 specifies that the amendments made in this Act apply to decisions to make deductions from payments made before the Act commences as well as those decisions made afterwards.

 

 



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Social Security Legislation Amendment (Fair Debt Recovery) Bill 2017

 

This bill 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 bill

 

This bill seeks to prevent the Department of Human Services from recovering a social security debt or a family tax benefit debt from an individual if the debt is under review.

 

Human rights implications

 

This bill does not engage any of the applicable rights or freedoms. 

 

Conclusion

 

This bill is compatible with human rights because it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

 

 

 

Andrew Wilkie MP