Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download PDFDownload PDF 

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment

SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (EMPLOYMENT SERVICES REFORM) BILL 2008

The Minister for Human Services (Senator Ludwig), pursuant to notice, moved government business notice of motion no. 1—That the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Employment Services Reform) Bill 2008 be now read a second time.

Debate ensued.

Question put and passed.

Bill read a second time.

The Senate resolved itself into committee for the consideration of the bill.

In the committee

Bill, taken as a whole by leave, debated.

On the motion of Senator Siewert the following amendments, taken together by leave, were debated and agreed to:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 4 (line 22), omit "must", substitute "may".

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 6 (line 18), omit "must", substitute "may".


 Schedule 1, item 1, page 8 (line 32), omit "must", substitute "may".

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 12 (line 10), omit "must", substitute "may".

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 5 (lines 28 to 31), omit paragraph 42C(4)(a), substitute:

 (a) the person satisfies the Secretary that the person has a reasonable excuse for the failure; or

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendments together by leave:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 6 (line 5), at the end of subsection 42C(5), add ", provided that the penalty amount may not be deducted until at least the instalment after the first instalment made following notification to the person of the no show no pay failure".

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 9 (line 35), at the end of subsection 42H(5), add ", provided that the penalty amount may not be deducted until at least the instalment after the first instalment made following notification to the person of the reconnection failure".

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendments be agreed to—put.

The committee divided—

AYES,32


Senators—
ArbibConroyHoggMilne
BilykCrossinHurleyMoore
BishopFarrell (Teller)HutchinsO'Brien
Brown, BobFeeneyLudlamSiewert
Brown, CarolFieldingLudwigStephens
CameronForshawLundySterle
CarrFurnerMarshallWortley
CollinsHanson-YoungMcLucasXenophon

NOES, 30


Senators—
AbetzColbeckHumphriesRonaldson
BarnettCoonanKrogerRyan
BernardiCormannMacdonaldScullion
BirminghamEgglestonMasonTroeth
BoswellFierravanti-WellsMcGauranTrood
BoyceFifieldNashWilliams (Teller)
BushbyFisherParry
CashHeffernanPayne

Question agreed to.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendments together by leave:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 6 (line 7), section 42D, omit "If", substitute "(1) Subject to subsection (2), if".


 Schedule 1, item 1, page 6 (after line 15), at the end of section 42D, add:

   Reconnection and hardship provisions

  (2) If the Secretary determines that a person commits more than 2 no show no pay failures within the same instalment period, the Secretary may determine that the person's penalty amount is to be reduced or waived if:

 (a) the person begins to comply with a no show no pay requirement imposed on the person; or

 (b) the Secretary determines that:

 (i) the person does not have the capacity to undertake any no show no pay requirement; and

 (ii) the deduction of the penalty amount would cause the person to be in severe financial hardship.

Note: For in severe financial hardship see subsection 14A(7) of the 1991 Act.

  (3) If the Secretary determines that a person commits a no show no pay failure, then the Secretary may require the person to comply with a requirement (the no show no pay failure requirement).

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 9 (after line 30), after subsection 42H(4), insert:

  (4A) The Secretary may end a person's reconnection failure period if the Secretary determines that:

 (a) the person does not have the capacity to undertake the reconnection requirement; and

 (b) the deduction of the penalty amount would cause the person to be in severe financial hardship.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendments be agreed to—put and negatived.

On the motion of Senator Siewert the following amendment was debated and agreed to:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 12 (after line 22), after section 42N, insert:

  

42NA Comprehensive compliance assessment

  (1) Before the Secretary determines that a person has committed a serious failure under section 42M, the Secretary must conduct a comprehensive compliance assessment in relation to the person.

  (2) The comprehensive compliance assessment must assess the following:

 (a) the reasons why the person may have committed failures under this Division;

 (b) the reasons why the person may have failed to meet other requirements under the social security law;

 (c) whether the person has any barriers to employment;

 (d) whether the person's participation requirements are appropriate.


Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 12 (after line 22), after section 42N, insert:

  

42NB Serious failure for unemployment resulting from a voluntary act or misconduct

  (1) The Secretary may determine that a person commits a serious failure if:

 (a) the person is unemployed as a result (whether direct or indirect) of a voluntary act of the person; or

 (b) the person is unemployed as a result of the person's misconduct as an employee.

   Note: A participation payment is not payable for 8 weeks for a serious failure (see section 42P).

   Limitations on determination

  (2) Despite subsection (1), the Secretary must not determine that a person commits a serious failure under that subsection if the person satisfies the Secretary that the person has a reasonable excuse for the failure.

   Note: The Secretary must take certain matters into account for the purposes of subsection (2) (see section 42U).

   Note: The Secretary may continue the participation payment pending the outcome of an application for review (see sections 131 and 145 of the Administration Act).

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Question—That the bill, as amended, be agreed to—divided, at the request of Senator Siewert, in respect of Schedule 1, Part 1, item 1, Subdivision E.

Schedule 1, Part 1, item 1, Subdivision E agreed to.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 14 (lines 31 to 33), omit subsection 42S(2), substitute:

  (2) Despite subsection (1), the Secretary must not make a determination under that subsection if the Secretary is satisfied that the voluntary act or misconduct was reasonable.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendments together by leave:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 12 (after line 22), after section 42N, insert:

  

42NC Determination about serious failure requirements and severe financial hardship

   If the Secretary determines that a person commits a serious failure, the Secretary must also determine that this section applies unless the Secretary is satisfied that:

 (a) the person does not have the capacity to undertake any serious failure requirement; and

 (b) serving the serious failure period would cause the person to be in severe financial hardship.


 Schedule 1, item 1, page 12 (line 25), after "serious failure", insert "and has determined that section 42NC applies".

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 13 (line 28), after the note, insert:

  (1A) The Secretary may make a determination under paragraph (1)(b) on request or on his or her own initiative.

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 13 (lines 32 and 33), omit paragraph 42Q(2)(b), substitute:

 (b) if the Secretary makes a determination under paragraph (1)(b) on request—the day before the request was made; or

 (c) if the Secretary makes a determination under paragraph (1)(b) on his or her own initiative—the day before the Secretary makes the determination.

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 13 (line 34), after the note, insert:

  (3) Section 42NC does not affect the operation of this section.

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 17 (line 24), omit "42Q(2)(b)", substitute "42Q(2)(c)".

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendments be agreed to—put.

The committee divided—

AYES,34


Senators—
ArbibCrossinHutchinsSherry
BilykEvansLudlamSiewert
BishopFarrell (Teller)LudwigStephens
Brown, BobFeeneyLundySterle
Brown, CarolForshawMarshallWong
CameronFurnerMcLucasWortley
CarrHanson-YoungMilneXenophon
CollinsHoggMoore
ConroyHurleyPratt

NOES, 33


Senators—
AbetzColbeckJohnstonRonaldson
BarnettCoonanJoyceRyan
BernardiCormannKrogerScullion
BirminghamEgglestonMacdonaldTroeth
BoswellFergusonMasonTrood
BoyceFierravanti-WellsMcGauranWilliams
BrandisFifieldNash
Bushby (Teller)FisherParry
CashHumphriesPayne

Question agreed to.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendment:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 15 (after line 27), before section 42T, insert:

  

42SA Discretion not to report non-compliance

  (1) An employment service provider may exercise a discretion not to report to the Secretary that a person has failed to comply with an obligation in relation to a participation payment if the employment service provider considers, on reasonable grounds, that compliance
action under this Division is not the best means of securing re-engagement and is counter-productive to the person obtaining employment.

  (2) For the purposes of this section, an employment service provider is a provider of employment services contracted by the Commonwealth.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendment be agreed to—put and negatived.

Senator Siewert moved the following amendments together by leave:

 Clause 3, page 2 (lines 7 to 11), omit the clause, substitute:

  

3 Schedule(s)

  (1) Each Act, and each determination, that is specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as set out in the applicable items in the Schedule concerned, and any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.

  (2) The amendment of any determination under subsection (1) does not prevent the determination, as so amended, being amended or repealed by the Secretary.

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 17 (after line 4), at the end of section 42U, add:

   Homelessness

  (3) A determination under subsection (1) must provide that, in deciding whether a person has a reasonable excuse for the matters listed in that subsection, the Secretary must take into account whether the person is homeless or is at risk of becoming homeless and, if so, whether that circumstance has affected the person's capacity to meet the person's obligations under this Division.

   Note: homeless has a meaning affected by section 19DA.

 Schedule 4, page 61 (after line 4), before item 1, insert:

 1A After section 19D

  Insert:

 

19DA Homelessness

  (1) For the purposes of the social security law, homelessness and homeless have meanings affected by this section.

  (2) The following are objectives of the social security law:

 (a) the need to give people a sustainable pathway out of homelessness; and

 (b) the need to minimise the risk of people becoming homeless.

  (3) When assessing the social security entitlements and social security benefits of any person, in circumstances in which the Secretary is required to consider the residential status of the person, hardship provisions which may relate to the person's circumstances or the ability of the person to meet obligations imposed by the social security law, the Secretary must have regard to the objectives set out in subsection (2).

  (4) In applying a definition of homelessness, the Secretary must have regard to the following categories of homelessness, drawn from the
Australian Bureau of Statistics' Australian Census Analytic Program document, Counting the Homeless:

 (a) primary homelessness, which accords with the common sense assumption that homelessness is the same as `rooflessness' and includes all people without conventional accommodation, such as people living on the streets, sleeping in parks, squatting in derelict buildings, or using cars or railway carriages for temporary shelter;

 (b) secondary homelessness, which includes people who move frequently from one form of temporary shelter to another and includes people staying in emergency or transitional accommodation, including hostels for the homeless, night shelters and refuges, and also including people residing temporarily with other households because they have no accommodation of their own;

 (c) tertiary homelessness, which refers to people who live in boarding houses on a medium- to long-term basis, operationally defined as 13 weeks or longer, whose accommodation situation is below the minimum community standard.

 Page 67 (after line 33), at the end of the bill, add:

  

Social Security (Reasonable Excuse) (DEWR) Determination 2006

 15 Paragraph 4(2)(a)

  Omit the paragraph, substitute:

 (a) the fact that the person is homeless or is at risk of becoming homeless at the time that the failure or refusal occurred;

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendments be agreed to—put and negatived.

On the motion of Senator Xenophon the following amendment was debated and agreed to:

 Page 17 (after line 31), at the end of Part 1 of Schedule 1, add:

  

Subdivision G—Review

 

42ZA Review of impact of compliance regime

  (1) The Minister must cause an independent review of the impact of the amendments made by this Division to be undertaken as soon as possible after 30 June 2010.

  (2) The review must report on:

 (a)  the effectiveness of the compliance regime in:

 (i) meeting job seeking requirements;

 (ii) reducing financial hardship;

 (iii) reducing compliance costs for job seekers, employment services providers and the Government; and

 (iv) using the `no show, no pay' provision to increase compliance with job seeking requirements;

(b)  the impact on vulnerable job seekers including Indigenous job seekers;

 (c) the impact of the compliance regime on employment participation and long-term unemployment;


 (d) the number of complaints made with the departmental hotline, Social Security Appeals Tribunal or Ombudsman's office in relation to the new arrangements;

 (e) the gaps between federal policy and state service provision for persons with non-vocational special needs or barriers;

 (f) the adequacy of non-vocational support services in regional areas;

 (g) the effectiveness of training for and consistency of understanding of Centrelink staff, employment providers and departmental contract managers in the new arrangements;

 (h) the adequacy of information and education provided to new and existing clients about the new system;

 (i) the adequacy of resourcing for Centrelink to implement the new arrangements and deal with related complaints;

 (j) the effectiveness and use of criteria such as hardship, vulnerability and reasonable exclusion within Comprehensive Compliance Assessments; and

 (k) any other related matter.

  (3) The review must be conducted by an independent panel, chaired by a person with expertise in social security and employment services matters.

  (4) The Minister must provide the panel with adequate resources to undertake the review.

  (5) The panel must give the Minister a written report of the review, and the Minister must cause a copy of the report to be made public and tabled in each House of the Parliament by 30 September 2010.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill to be reported with amendments.

The Acting Deputy President (Senator Troeth) resumed the chair and the Temporary Chair of Committees reported accordingly.

On the motion of Senator Ludwig the report from the committee was adopted and the bill read a third time.