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Budget delivers tighteners for welfare.

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Peter Andren MP - Independent Member for Calare

10 May 2005

Budget delivers tighteners for welfare

This year’s budget surplus has introduced tax relief, especially for higher income earners, but stricter rules for parenting and disability payments will make life difficult for those in need of assistance, according to Peter Andren, Member for Calare.

“The Treasurer’s changes to the tax thresholds for higher income earners and the abolition of the high income superannuation surcharge comes at a cost for those on benefits such as the parenting payments, and the disability support pension,” Mr Andren said.

“For sole parents and partners of low income earners, once the youngest child reaches primary school age they must look for at least part-time work.

“Those currently receiving parenting payment will remain on that payment and they will keep their payments if they do not find work. However, those going on to parenting payment from 1 July 2006, will be moved to Newstart once their youngest turns six.

“My concern is where are the jobs between 9am and 3pm to suit the needs of these parents and how accessible the new skills preparation service will be for regional and rural families.

“The Treasurer has provided for 84,300 additional outside school hours child care places to help facilitate these parents back to work. This is a welcome development as long as an area - especially in regional and rural Australia - has the facilities to accommodate these extra places.

“Where is the increase in capital funding for child care providers to accommodate extra places?

“This has been a problem in the aged care sector for years now, and I also wonder where the accommodation will be for the respite care provisions made in the budget.

“People going on to the Disability Support Pension from July 2006 will be subject to tighter eligibility rules. The DSP will only be available to those who cannot work more than 15 hours a week at award wages, down from 30 hours.

“Although there is no change for those currently receiving the disability support pension, those who successfully apply for the DSP from tomorrow will be reassessed in July next year.

“Anyone who can work more than 15 hours a week will be put on the government’s ‘enhanced Newstart’ payment and be eligible for assistance under a new pre-vocational participation program.

“One silver lining for new DSP recipients is an increase in the mobility allowance to $100 a fortnight for those who will be obliged to look for part-time work.

“Another positive is in the changes to Newstart which increase the income a person can earn from $142 to $250 before their benefit is reduced, and decreasing the reduction rate from 70c to 60c in each dollar earned over $250.

“As I understand it, the 15 hour work test is aimed at those who can earn award wages, and as such should not affect employees of organisations such as Wangarang and Glenray,” Mr Andren said.

For more information: Peter Andren - 02 6277-2341/0419-612-891 or Tim Mahony - 0427-480-825

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