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Monday, 19 March 2018
Page: 1498

Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (18:16): The Greens, as I've articulated, don't support these amendments and don't support the bill or this schedule. We have deep concern that it will impact on vulnerable people, of course, but, more broadly, on people who are on income support or trying to access income support, as I articulated in my second reading contribution. The supplementary EM to these amendments says:

However, it is acknowledged that there may be occasions when a person in vulnerable circumstances may not be able to lodge a claim or provide the required documentation in a timely manner. Accordingly, although the deemed claim provisions will no longer apply to claimants generally, these amendments will ensure that sections 13 and 14 will continue to apply to a vulnerable claimant, being a person included in a class of persons determined by the Minister by legislative instrument.

Again, it is by legislative instrument; it's not something that we get to comment on in this place other than, potentially, by voting yes or no. I'm deeply concerned that it won't include the sorts of vulnerable people that I support and hear from on a regular basis in my office. For example, Aboriginal people living in a remote community may not be able to access their documentation or it may take weeks and weeks to get their documentation, as we heard about in the Northern Territory when we were up there for the CDP inquiry last year.

This amendment goes some way, but it does not address the broader issues created by this schedule, where we think a lot of Australians won't get access to income support when they need it. I remember being here when we were debating the provisions around people needing to access income support urgently and the further impositions that this government put on people having to prove that they're fleeing family crisis situations and family violence. When we were debating that, it was very clear that the hurdle had gone much higher. I'm concerned that this is a continued approach by government to keep ratcheting up that hurdle so that social security, which is a right, is being made harder and harder to access. These amendments don't address those fundamental issues that are raised by this schedule. So we will be opposing these amendments and, as people know, we oppose this schedule.