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Monday, 12 November 2018
Page: 7796


Senator RUSTON (South AustraliaAssistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific) (19:45): These three instruments are vital to ensuring that there's consistency, clarity and certainty for jobseekers and providers alike.

In relation to the Social Security (Administration) (Reasonable Excuse—Participation Payments) Determination 2018, the government will not support the disallowance of this instrument. If a jobseeker does not meet one of their requirements while receiving unemployment payments, they may face a financial penalty unless they have a reasonable excuse for that failure. If the reasonable excuse instrument were disallowed, decision-makers could still decide that a person had a reasonable excuse for a particular failure—so that that person did not face financial penalties for reasons outside of their control—but would not be required to consider factors currently specified in the instrument, such as any illness or impairment of the person, their language ability, their housing instability et cetera. This could lead to an inconsistent application of the reasonable excuse provision, which could disadvantage some jobseekers relative to others. Likewise, the instrument specifies the circumstances in which drug or alcohol dependence must not be considered a reasonable excuse.

The government will not be supporting the disallowance of the Social Security (Administration) Legislation Amendment and Repeal (Reasonable Excuse—Participation Payments) Determination 2018. The instrument makes a number of technical changes, including the repeal of the instrument, which applied under the prior compliance framework and which will no longer have effect for jobseekers due to legislative changes. This instrument forms part of the government's commitment to maintaining the currency of our legislation and legislative instruments by removing redundant regulation.

Finally, the government will not support the motion to disallow the Social Security (Administration) (Job Search Efforts) Determination 2018 instrument. If the instrument were disallowed, there would still be a requirement to apply mutual obligation failures for failing to undertake adequate job search efforts; however, there would be no instrument to guide decision-makers in determining what constituted an inadequate job search, and there would be no requirement for decision-makers to consider the range of factors specified in the instrument. This would reduce clarity and protections for jobseekers, and potentially subject them to inconsistent assessment of whether they have undertaken adequate job searches. Further to this, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Act 2018 requires the secretary to make an instrument to guide decision-makers in making this determination.