Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14567

Mr FLETCHER (BradfieldMinister for Families and Social Services) (10:19): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Energy Assistance Payment) Bill 2019, will enable a one-off energy assistance payment to all pension, allowance and veteran payment recipients residing in Australia on 2 April 2019 to assist them with their energy costs. The energy assistance payment will be $75 for singles and $62.50 for each eligible member of a couple. The government are able to deliver this assistance because our responsible budget management allows us to guarantee the essential services Australians rely on.

The measure to make the energy assistance payment builds on a 2017-18 budget measure to make a one-off assistance payment to certain income support recipients and extends the payment to all income support recipients. It also follows on from the government's announcement, confirmed in the 2018-19 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, that the energy supplement will continue for new income support recipients. Determining eligibility for this one-off payment is simple. You must be in receipt of one of the qualifying payments and be residing in Australia on 2 April 2019. Those qualified will automatically receive the payment through the Department of Human Services or the Department of Veterans' Affairs. They will not need to take any action. No claim is necessary. The payment will not be taxed and will not reduce their rate of income support. Those people who have made a claim for payment on or before 2 April 2019 and whose claims are subsequently granted will also be paid the one-off payment.

This legislation ensures that a person cannot receive more than one entitlement and no payment will be made to non-Australian residents as they are not subject to energy prices in Australia. People who are not in receipt of a payment because they are suspended on the test date will not be immediately eligible. Those whose payments are subsequently restored through a period covering 2 April 2019 will receive the payment. Anyone who is paid the 2019 one-off energy assistance payment and who subsequently becomes ineligible for their qualifying income support payment on the test date—for example, through a review of a decision—will not have to pay it back except in limited circumstances, such as fraud.

The payment will help approximately five million income support recipients and veterans. The total cost of this payment will be around $365 million. The energy assistance payment will be paid automatically to most eligible recipients by the end of June 2019.

Leave granted for second reading debate to continue immediately.