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Order of the day read for the further consideration of message no. 236

from the House of Representatives in committee of the whole.

In the committee

Consideration resumed of the motion of the Minister for Family Services

(Senator Crowley)--That the committee does not press its requests for

amendments made by the Senate to which the House of Representatives has

disagreed--and on the amendment moved by Senator Patterson (see entry

no. 25).

Debate resumed.

Senator Patterson, by leave, withdrew the amendment.

Debate continued.

Question put and passed.

Resolution to be reported.

The Deputy President (Senator Crichton-Browne) resumed the Chair and the

Temporary Chairman of Committees (Senator Zakharov) reported that the

committee had considered message no. 236 from the House of

Representatives relating to the Social Security (Home Child Care and

Partner Allowances) Legislation Amendment Bill 1994 and had resolved not

to press its requests for amendments made by the Senate to which the

House of Representatives had disagreed.

Senator Crowley moved--That the report from the committee be adopted.

Senator Patterson moved the following amendment:

At end of motion, add "but the Senate:

1. notes that without amendments the bill will exclude from

eligibility from the home child care allowance:

(a) families in which the child or (otherwise eligible) parent is

overseas for longer than thirteen weeks; and

(b) families with children who are dependent full-time students aged

18 to 25 when the child's income is under $1,785 a year; and

(c) families with children who are receiving prescribed student

payments; and

(d) families who are ineligible for the HCCA as a result of the more

onerous income definitions under the Social Security Act 1991;


2. also notes that the combined complexities of the Social Security

Act 1991 and the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, made it extremely

difficult for requests for amendments to be prepared that ensure

that the bill would not unfairly exclude these families from access

to home child care allowance without having any unforeseen

consequences; and

3. recalls that during the debate on the second reading of the bill

the Senate considered the legal complexity of the issues involved

in amending the bill, but did not, at that time, choose to urge the

Government to prepare requests for amendments and instead agreed to

requests for amendments moved by Senator Harradine; and

4. notes that on 2 March 1994 these requests for amendments were the

subject of a letter from the Minister for Social Security, Mr Peter

Baldwin MP, to Mr Philip Ruddock MP, highlighting a range of

alleged unforeseen consequences; and

5. notes that in light of this correspondence Senator Patterson

arranged for the preparation of a revised amendment in the

following form:

"Clause 3, page 13, after proposed Division 5, insert the following


"Division 5A--Preservation of home child care allowance

Preservation of home child care allowance where rebates would be


"929A.(1) If:

(a) under subsection 159J(1B) of the Income Tax Assessment Act

1936 as in force on 1 January 1994, a person or a person's

spouse would be entitled to a rebate in respect of a dependent

child in respect of a year of income; and

(b) a home child care allowance would not be payable to the person

during a period during the year of income, or would be payable

but at a lower rate than the amount of the rebate in respect

of that period;

a home child care allowance is payable to the person for the child

during that period at the rate equal to the amount of the rebate in

respect of that period.

"(2) For the purpose of working out the amount of the rebate in

respect of that period, the maximum rate of the rebate is taken to

be the amount per annum for the time being applicable under section


"(3) This section only applies to a person who lodges a claim in

writing, in accordance with a form approved by the Secretary and

with section 917, for this section to apply to the person.".'; and

6. notes that this revised amendment would go some way to addressing

the concerns and unintended consequences identified by the

Minister; and

7. notes that any remaining concerns or unintended consequences could

have been readily overcome if the Government had ensured that the

necessary expertise was made available for the drafting of

amendments in such a way as to guarantee the elimination of such

concerns and unintended consequences; and

8. further notes that in letters from Mr Philip Ruddock MP, and from

Senator Patterson, dated 3 March 1994 and 9 March 1994

respectively, the Minister had been asked to redraft the

amendments, in order to eliminate the alleged unforseen

consequences while ensuring that the proposed Home Child Care

allowance benefits were not denied to those families who would

otherwise have been unfairly excluded from them; and

9. expresses its concern that on 10 March 1994 the Minister again

refused to have the requests for amendments redrafted by the

Government or to make available to the Senate's drafter,

departmental officers expert in the intricacies of the relevant

social security and income tax law; and

10. reminds the Government that, in virtually identical circumstances,

on 2 March 1994, while the Senate was considering proposed

amendments to the Training Guarantee (Administration) Amendment

Bill 1993, Senator McMullan, the Minister for Trade and

Administrative Services undertook "to give effect in the House of

Representatives to the Senate's intention by redrafting the

amendments, sending them back to the Senate, and having the same

purpose with better drafting', an undertaking given because of the

complexity of the issues involved; and

11. expresses its disappointment that the Government, through the

Minister, Senator Crowley, has made it known that the Government

will not redraft the Senate's amendments or make experts available

who could assist the Senate to redraft the amendments, to ensure

that the bill delivers its benefits to the families currently

intended to receive them and also to those families, referred to

in paragraph 1. above, to whom the Government would otherwise deny

them; and

12. condemns the Government for its failure to treat all those

families who should be entitled to the home child care allowance


Question--That the amendment be agreed to--put and passed.

Main question, as amended, put and passed.

On the motion of Senator Crowley the bill was read a third time.