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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7678


Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (10:19): I second the motion and rise in strong support of the member for Indi's bill, the Social Security Commission Bill 2018. I am impressed with the sheer level of detail contained within the member's proposal for a Social Security Commission. It highlights the amount of considered thought and wide-ranging consultation that she and her office have dedicated to this very important matter. That is what we, as a crossbench, are about.

The member for Indi is exactly right when she highlights the fact that social security payments of all descriptions are falling behind community expectations and that they are falling behind the ever-rising cost of living. Her sentiments echo my own concerns. Earlier this year I moved a motion, seconded by the member for Indi, that sought to establish an independent tribunal to assess the base rate of the pension and determine the best mechanism for annual review. It is astounding that in 2018, when we have an ageing population, that these are issues we have to fight for in the parliament. It should just be accepted; it should be given that we want to provide the most vulnerable members of our community with the best support possible for a good life—particularly our older Australians.

It's a logical extension of that proposal that Australia should apply the same formula to all social security payments through the open and deliberative commission model advanced in this bill and to publicly release the findings of that commission. That is what we need. We need transparency, because this transparency allows for a measured public conversation to occur. It is a very complex area of policy, and one that I think is often demonised and finds itself on the front of our broadsheets. It is not deserving of that place. Elected representatives should and would continue to have the final say on what is ultimately a deeply social, economic and political decision for the government of the day, but that decision can then be made with reference to a calm, collected, open and pragmatic policy development process.

In conclusion, I commend the member on her excellent work. This is what we are here for: we are here to create a better Australia. We are not here to squabble amongst ourselves. The efforts of this parliament should not be taken up with half of the members worried about who the leader of their team should be. So this is about creating a better Australia. This is what the parliament's about, and I strongly urge the House to support this bill.

Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Indi for her solid work in this area and seek leave to table the member for Denison's contribution, if that is possible.

Leave granted.

The SPEAKER: The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.