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13    Community Affairs References Committee—Reference —Income support payments

Senator Siewert, also on behalf of Senator Dodson, amended business of the Senate notice of motion no. 1 by leave and, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved—That the following matter be referred to the Community Affairs References Committee for inquiry and report by 27 March 2020:

The adequacy of Newstart and related payments and alternative mechanisms to determine the level of income support payments in Australia, with specific reference to:

                         (a)       consideration of what constitutes an acceptable standard of living in Australia, including the cost of safe and secure housing;

                         (b)       the labour market, unemployment and under-employment in Australia, including the structural causes of long term unemployment and long term reliance on Newstart;

                         (c)       the changing nature of work and insecure work in Australia;

                         (d)       the appropriateness of current arrangements for supporting those experiencing insecure employment, inconsistent employment and precarious hours in the workforce;

                         (e)       the current approach to setting income support payments in Australia;

                          (f)       the impact of the current approach to setting income support payments on older unemployed workers, families, single parents, people with disability, jobseekers, students, First Nations peoples, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living in regional and remote areas, and any others affected by the process;

                         (g)       the impact of geography, age and other characteristics on the number of people receiving payments, long term unemployment and poverty;

                         (h)       the adequacy of income support payments in Australia and whether they allow people to maintain an acceptable standard of living in line with community expectations and fulfil job search activities (where relevant) and secure employment and training;

                           (i)       the economic cost of long-term unemployment, underemployment, poverty, inequality and inadequate income support payments;

                          (j)       the economic benefits - including job creation, locally and nationally - of increasing and improving income support payments and supports, and decreasing poverty and inequality;

                         (k)       the relationship between income support payment levels, minimum wages and wage stagnation in Australia and other comparable economies;

                           (l)       the interactions with other payments and services, including the loss of any increased payments through higher rents and costs;

                       (m)       the cost and fiscal sustainability of any changes;

                         (n)       the relative merits of alternative investments in health, education, housing and other programs to improve outcomes;

                         (o)       other countries’ approaches to setting income support payments, minimum wages and awards;

                         (p)       other bodies that set payments, minimum wages and awards in Australia;

                         (q)       the role of independent and expert decision-making in setting payments; and

                          (r)       any other related matters.

Question put.

The Senate divided—

AYES, 35

Senators—

Ayres

Gallagher

McAllister

Siewert

Bilyk

Green

McCarthy

Smith, Marielle

Brown

Griff

McKim

Steele-John

Chisholm

Hanson

O’Neill

Urquhart*

Ciccone

Hanson-Young

Patrick

Walsh

Di Natale

Keneally

Pratt

Waters

Dodson

Kitching

Rice

Watt

Faruqi

Lambie

Roberts

Whish-Wilson

Gallacher

Lines

Sheldon

 

 

 

NOES, 31

Senators—

Abetz

Colbeck

McDonald

Ruston

Antic

Davey

McGrath

Ryan

Askew

Duniam

McKenzie

Seselja

Bernardi

Fawcett

McMahon

Sinodinos

Bragg

Fierravanti-Wells

O’Sullivan

Smith, Dean*

Brockman

Fifield

Paterson

Stoker

Canavan

Hughes

Rennick

Van

Chandler

Hume

Reynolds

 

 

 

* Tellers

Question agreed to.