Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Social Services Legislation Amendment (Relieving Domestic Violence Victims of Debt) Bill 2017

Bill home page  


Download WordDownload Word


Download PDFDownload PDF

2017

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social Services Legislation Amendment (Relieving Domestic Violence Victims of Debt) Bill 2017

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

and

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Circulated by authority of

Andrew Wilkie MP

Social Services Legislation Amendment (Relieving Domestic Violence Victims of Debt) Bill 2017

 

 

OUTLINE

 

This bill inserts provisions into the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration Act) 1999 and the Social Security Act 1991 to allow social security and family assistance debts to be waived in cases of domestic or family violence. The bill would allow the Secretary to waive a debt if the debtor is unable to pay the debt due to being subjected to domestic or family violence, and would also allow a debt to be waived in cases where a debtor has made a false statement or failed to comply with another provision of social security or family assistance law due to being subjected to domestic or family violence.

 

While the principal Acts do currently allow for a debt to be waived in “special circumstances”, this bill seeks to make a clearer legislative framework for debts to be waived in domestic or family violence situations, which under the current legislation may not always fall under “special circumstances”. Also, while there is currently a provision for debts to be waived when a debtor did not “knowingly” make a false statement, this bill seeks to extend that provision to situations where a debtor may have been aware that they were making a false statement but did so in a domestic or family violence situation.

 

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 Services Legislation Amendment (Relieving Domestic Violence Victims of Debt) 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: After section 101

 

1.       Item 1 inserts a section 101A into the Act which contains provisions for family assistance debts to be waived in cases of domestic or family violence.

2.       Section 101A(a) allows for the Secretary to waive a debt if they are satisfied that the debtor is unable to repay the debt because they are being, or have been, subjected to domestic or family violence.

3.       Section 101A(b) allows for the Secretary to waive a debt if they are satisfied that, if the debt results from the debtor making a false representation or failing to comply with a provision of family assistance law, that conduct is because they are being, or have been, subjected to domestic or family violence.

4.       “Domestic or family violence” is not defined by proposed section 101A. This is intended to not limit the scope of what can be considered “domestic or family violence”, and to acknowledge that that definition has changed and can change over time. It is noted, though, that domestic or family violence takes many forms, and includes financial abuse, which is pertinent to family assistance law.

 

Social Security Act 1991

 

Item 2: After section 1237AAE

 

5.       Item 2 inserts a section 1237AAF into the Act which contains provisions for social security debts to be waived in cases of domestic or family violence.

6.       Section 1237AAF(a) allows for the Secretary to waive a debt if they are satisfied that the debtor is unable to repay the debt because they are being, or have been, subjected to domestic or family violence.

7.       Section 1237AAF(b) allows for the Secretary to waive a debt if they are satisfied that, if the debt results from the debtor making a false representation or failing to comply with a provision of social security law, as a result of being, or having been, subjected to domestic or family violence.

8.       As with the family assistance provisions, “domestic or family violence” is not defined by proposed section 1237AAF.



STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

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

 

Social Services Legislation Amendment (Relieving Domestic Violence Victims of Debt) 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 inserts provisions into the A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration Act) 1999 and the Social Security Act 1991 to allow social security and family tax benefit debts to be waived in cases of domestic or family violence. The bill would allow the Secretary to waive a debt if the debtor is unable to pay the debt due to being subjected to domestic or family violence, and would also allow a debt to be waived in cases where a debtor has made a false statement or failed to comply with another provision of social security or family assistance law as the result of being subjected to domestic or family violence.

 

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