Title Social Services Legislation Amendment (Energy Assistance Payment and Pensioner Concession Card) Bill 2017
Database Explanatory Memoranda
Date 12-02-2018 06:14 PM
Source House of Reps
System Id legislation/ems/r5878_ems_3db8ae99-2c8c-4b99-b887-e668c8cfcacb


Social Services Legislation Amendment (Energy Assistance Payment and Pensioner Concession Card) Bill 2017

2016-2017

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(ENERGY ASSISTANCE PAYMENT AND PENSIONER CONCESSION CARD) BILL 2017

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 (Circulated by the authority of the

Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP)


SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(ENERGY ASSISTANCE PAYMENT AND PENSIONER CONCESSION CARD) BILL 2017

 

 

OUTLINE

 

Schedule 1 will pay a one-off energy assistance payment to recipients of the age pension, disability support pension and parenting payment single, together with recipients of various veterans’ payments, who are payable and residing in Australia on 20 June 2017. 

 

Schedule 2 will provide a pensioner concession card to various former social security pensioners and veterans’ payments recipients where the recipient’s payment or pension was cancelled on 1 January 2017 due to the rebalancing of the assets test parameters by the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015

 

 

 

 

Financial impact statement

 

 

MEASURE

FINANCIAL IMPACT OVER THE FORWARD ESTIMATES

Schedule 1 – Energy assistance payments

$268.9 Million

Schedule 2 – Pensioner concession cards

$3.1 Million

 

 

REGULATION IMPACT STATEMENTS

 

The Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) has advised that the Energy Assistance Payments measure is minor and machinery in nature, with no impact on regulatory costs. The OBPR reference number is 22195.

 

The Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR) has advised that the Reinstating Pensioner Concession Card for Cancelled Recipients measure is minor and machinery in nature, with no impact on regulatory costs. The OBPR reference number is 22164.

 

STATEMENTS OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

The statements of compatibility with human rights appear at the end of this explanatory memorandum.

 


SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT

(ENERGY ASSISTANCE PAYMENT AND PENSIONER CONCESSION CARD) BILL 2017

 

 

NOTES ON CLAUSES

 

Abbreviations used in this explanatory memorandum

 

 

 

 

Clause 1 sets out how the new Act is to be cited – that is, as the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Energy Assistance Payments and Other Measures) Act 2017.

 

Clause 2 provides a table setting out the commencement dates of the various sections in, and Schedules to, the new Act.

 

Clause 3 provides that each Act that is specified in a Schedule is amended or repealed as set out in that Schedule.

 

 


Schedule 1 – Energy assistance payments

 

 

Summary

 

This Schedule will pay a one-off energy assistance payment to recipients of the age pension, disability support pension and parenting payment single, together with recipients of various veterans’ payments, who are payable and residing in Australia on 20 June 2017.

 

Background

 

 

Approximately 3.8 million people will receive the one-off energy assistance payment, comprising of approximately 2.5 million age pensioners, 770,000 disability support pensioners and 260,000 parenting payment single recipients, and 235,000 veterans’ affairs clients. The one-off payment will also be paid to those persons who have made a claim for payment on or before the test date and subsequently have that claim granted (this would be around 30,000 payments).

 

The rate of payment will be $75 for singles and $62.50 per member of a couple and we anticipate will be received by the majority of recipients by 30 June 2017. Persons who have made a claim for payment on or before the test date and subsequently have that claim granted, will be paid in 2017-18. The payment will be exempt from taxation and not count as income for social security purposes.

 

Persons who are paid who subsequently become not eligible for payment on the test date (for example through appeal, or review) will not have this payment recovered.

No payment would be made to persons not generally living in Australia.

 

The amendments made by this Schedule commence on the day the Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Explanation of the changes

 

Part 1 - Social Security amendments

 

Amendments to the Social Security Act

 

Item 1 inserts reference to the one-off energy assistance payment paid under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act, so that the payment will not count as income for social security purposes.

 

Item 2 inserts new Part 2.6 before Part 2.7, which will provide for qualification for one-off energy assistance payments.

 

New subsection 300(1) provides that a person is qualified for a one-off energy assistance payment if age pension, disability support pension or pension PP (single) is payable to the person on 20 June 2017, because of a claim the person made on or before 20 June 2017, and the person is residing in Australia on that day.

 

New subsection 300(2) prevents a person receiving more than one payment under the new section regardless of how many times the person qualifies under the section. 

 

New subsection 300(3)prevents a person being paid a payment under this section if the person has been paid a payment under Part IIIF of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act, inserted by Part 2 of this Schedule.

 

New section 301 provides how to work out the amount of a person’s one-off energy assistance payment by reference to a table, having regard to the person’s situation on 20 June 2017.  In broad terms, if the person is partnered, they will be paid $62.50.  If they are not a member of a couple, or are ordinarily treated as not a member of a couple under the social security law, such as the couple being respite or illness separated, they will be paid $75.

 

A note to the provision refers the reader to definitions used in the table set out in section 4 of the Social Security Act.

 

Item 3 inserts a new table item 4F into the table at subsection 1222(2), providing for raising of debts in respect of one-off energy assistance payment in narrow circumstances set out at item 4 below.

 

Item 4 inserts new section 1223ABG to provide for raising of debts in respect of one-off energy assistance payment.  If, after a one-off energy assistance payment under new Part 2.6 is paid to a person, a determination relating to the underlying pension in relation to the person insofar as it relates to 20 June 2017 is changed, revoked, set aside or superseded by another determination, and the decision was made for the reason that the person knowingly made a false or misleading statement, or knowingly provided false information, such that had the change occurred before 20 June 2017 the one-off energy assistance payment would not have been paid, the amount of the one-off energy assistance payment is a debt due to the Commonwealth by the person. Debts of one-off energy assistance payment will not arise under any other provisions of Part 5.

 

Amendments to the Social Security Administration Act

 

Item 5 inserts new section 12AC before section 12B, providing that a claim is not required for a one-off energy assistance payment.

 

Item 6 inserts new paragraph (ge) into subsection 47(1) to include one-off energy assistance payment as a lump sum benefit. 

 

Item 7 then inserts new section 47AC to provide for the payment in a single lump sum of one-off energy assistance payment to a person who is qualified for such payment on the earliest practicable date for the payment to be made, and in such manner as the Secretary considers appropriate.


 

Part 2 – Veterans’ entitlements amendments

 

Item 8 amends paragraph 5H(8) to insert new paragraph (zzaj) which refers to a one-off energy assistance payment made under new Part IIIF.

 

The payments and amounts listed under subsection 5H(8) are excluded for the purposes of the income test under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act.

 

Item 9 inserts a new Part IIIF into the Veterans’ Entitlements Act.

 

New Part IIIF provides for the payment of the one-off energy assistance payment to persons who are eligible for the payment on 20 June 2017.

 

New section 66 sets out the criteria for persons who will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment because they are in receipt of a payment under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act.

 

Subsection 66(1) provides that a person will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment if service pension or income support supplement is payable or will be payable to the person on or for 20 June 2017 because of a claim made on or before that day and the person is residing in Australia on that day.

 

Subsection 66(2) includes a table which sets out the amount of the one-off energy assistance payment that will be payable to a person who is eligible for the payment under subsection 66(1).

 

For a single person or a member of an illness separated or respite care couple in receipt of service pension or income support the payment is $75.

 

For a member of a couple the payment will be $62.50.

 

Subsection 66(3) provides that a person will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment if a disability pension is payable to the person under Part II or Part IV of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act on 20 June 2017 and the person is residing in Australia on that day.

 

Subsection 66(4) provides that a person will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment if a war widow/ widowers pension is payable to the person under Part II or Part IV of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act on 20 June 2017 and the person is residing in Australia on that day.

 

Subsection 66(5) provides that, for the purposes of subsections 66(3) and (4), a pension will be regarded as being payable under Parts II and IV even if the rate of pension is a nil rate because the pension has been fully offset under provisions located in Divisions 4, 5 and 5A of Part II or under section 74.

 

Divisions 4, 5 and 5A or Part II contain provisions which provide for the offsetting against payments of disability and war widow/ widower pensions under Part II of lump sum and periodic payments of compensation that have been paid to the person under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, by State and foreign governments and by another person or organisation.

 

Section 74 provides for the offsetting against payments of disability and war widow/ widower pensions of lump sum and periodic payments of compensation that have been paid to the person under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, by State and foreign governments and by another person or organisation.

 

Subsection 66(6) provides that the amount of the one-off energy assistance payment that will be payable to a person who is eligible for the payment under subsections 66(3) and (4) will be $75.  Persons eligible for the payment under subsections 66(3) and (4) will receive the same payment amount if they are a single person or a member of a couple.

 

For persons who may be eligible under both subsection 66(1) and either of subsections 66(3) and (4) or new sections 67 and 67A, only one payment will be made and the amount of the one-off energy assistance payment will be $75 as determined under subsection 66(6), subsection 67(6) or subsection 67A(2).

 

New section 67 sets out the criteria for persons who will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment because they are in receipt of a payment under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

 

Subsection 67(1) provides that a person will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment if one of the conditions that is set out in subsection 67(2) is met for 20 June 2017 and the person is residing in Australia on that day.

 

Subsection 67(2) sets out, for the purposes of subsection 67(1), the conditions that need to be met to satisfy that requirement.  As stated in subsection 67(1), one of the following conditions must be met:

·         weekly compensation for permanent impairment is payable to the person under Part 2 of Chapter 4 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act for

20 June 2017;

·         weekly compensation for permanent impairment would have been payable under Part 2 of Chapter 4 for that day if it had not been offset under paragraph 398(3)(b) of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act or subsection 13(4) of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 (as described below);

·         prior to 20 June 2017, the person had received lump sum compensation for permanent impairment under Part 2 of Chapter 4 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

 

Subsection 67(3) provides that a person will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment if Special Rate Disability Pension is payable to the person under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act for 20 June 2017 or would have been payable for that day if it had not been offset under section 204 or paragraph 398(3)(b) of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (as described below) and the person is residing in Australia on that day.

 

Subsection 67(4) provides that a person will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment if either or both of the conditions that are set out in subsection 67(5) is met for 20 June 2017 and the person is residing in Australia on that day.

 

Subsection 67(5) sets out, for the purposes of subsection 67(4), the conditions that need to be met to satisfy that requirement.  As stated in subsection 67(4), one or both of the following conditions must be met:

·         weekly compensation as a wholly dependent partner is payable to the person under Division 2 of Part 2 of Chapter 5 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act for 20 June 2017;

·         weekly compensation as a wholly dependent partner would have been payable to the person under Division 2 of Part 2 of Chapter 5 for that day if it had not been offset under paragraph 398(3)(b) of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (as described below);

·         prior to 20 June 2017, the person had received lump sum compensation as a wholly dependent partner under Division 2 of Part 2 of Chapter 5 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act and before that date the person had not been precluded under subsection 388(6) of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act from being eligible for any further compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act following the recovery of damages for the death of the person’s partner from the Commonwealth.

 

Subsections 67(2), (3) and (5) all refer to the circumstances where compensation payable under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Actis to be regarded as being payable to the person even though the payment rate is nil due to the operation of one of the offsetting provisions that is described below.  The purpose and effect of those offsetting provisions is described below.

 

Offsetting provisions

 

Section 204

 

Section 204 provides for the offsets that may be made against payments of the Special Rate Disability Pension.

 

The first offset that is made against the Special Rate Disability Pension. is for permanent impairment payments made under Part 2 of Chapter 4.

 

If a permanent impairment payment is being made as a periodic payment, the Special Rate Disability Pension.is offset by the periodic payment dollar for dollar.  If all or part of the payment has been taken as a lump sum, the Special Rate Disability Pension.is offset dollar for dollar by all or part of the total amount of the periodic payment that the person would be receiving, had the lump sum not been chosen.

 

The second offset is that of Commonwealth superannuation pensions or lump sums received.

 

Paragraph 398(3)(b)

 

Paragraph 398(3)(b) is applicable when damages have been awarded as a result of claim against a third party in the circumstances where the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission has taken over or made a claim on the plaintiff’s behalf.  In those circumstances any damages awarded or agreed upon, less any compensation which has already paid to the plaintiff under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act and any costs of making the claim, are to be paid to the Commonwealth.

 

The balance of the damages remaining after the deductions have been made is to be paid to the plaintiff.  Paragraph 398(3)(b) provides that the plaintiff will not entitled to any further compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act until the amount of compensation that would have been payable equals the amount of damages that have been paid to the plaintiff.

 

Subsection 13(4) of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004

 

Section 13 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Act 2004 is applicable in the circumstances where a person with a condition accepted under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act or the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act has lodged a claim for permanent impairment compensation under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

 

Subsection 13(4) provides that the Guide to Determining Impairment and Compensation (as made under section 67 of the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act) may contain the method for calculating the amount of permanent impairment compensation payable under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act in those cases where an injury or disease has been accepted under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act and/or the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act before the permanent impairment claim has been made under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.  It also provides that the Guide to Determining Impairment and Compensation may also include a method for offsetting payments made to the person under the Veterans’ Entitlements Act or the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act in respect of the condition.

 

Subsection 67(6) provides that the amount of the one-off energy assistance payment that will be payable to a person who is eligible for the payment under section 67 will be $75.

 

New section 67A sets out the criteria to be met for persons who will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment because they have received a payment of compensation under the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act.

 

Subsection 67A(1) provides that a person will be eligible for a one-off energy assistance payment if:

 

·         at any time the person received compensation for permanent impairment under section 24 of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act; and

·         the compensation was payable in relation to a defence-related claim the person made on or before 20 June 2017; and

·         the person is residing in Australia on 20 June 2017.

 

Subsection 67A(2) provides that the amount of the one-off energy assistance payment that will be payable to a person who is eligible for the payment under section 67A will be $75.

 

New section 67B is a multiple payment exclusion provision.

 

Subsection 67B(1) provides that a person will receive only one one-off energy assistance payment despite that person being eligible for more than one payment under new Part IIIF.

 

Subsection 67B(2) provides that a person will not be eligible to receive a one-off energy assistance payment if the payment has been paid to the person under Part 2.6 of the Social Security Act.

 

New section 67C provides that a person will not be required to make a claim for the one-off energy assistance payment.

 

New section 67D provides that, where a person is eligible for one-off energy assistance payment, the Repatriation Commission must make the payment in a single lump sum on the earliest date that is reasonably practical and in the manner the Repatriation Commission considers to be appropriate.

 


Part 3 - Taxation amendments

 

Amendments to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997

 

Item 10 inserts reference to the energy assistance payment under the Social Security Act or Veterans’ Entitlements Act into the table at section 11-15.

 

Items 11 and 12 insert into section 52-10 reference to one-off energy assistance payment under the Social Security Act, to provide that such payment is exempt from income tax.

 

Item 13 inserts reference to one-off energy assistance payment under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act into section 52-40.

 

Items 14 and 15 amend section 52-65 to insert reference to one-off energy assistance payment under the Veterans’ Entitlement Act to provide that such payment is exempt from income tax.

 

Item 16 similarly amends section 52-75 which lists the provisions of the Veterans’ Entitlements Act under which veterans’ affairs payments are made that are wholly or partly exempt from income tax, to insert into the table in that section reference to the one-off energy assistance payment under Part IIIF.

 

 

 


Schedule 2 –  Pensioner concession cards

 

 

Summary

 

Schedule 2 will provide a pensioner concession card to various former social security pensioners and veterans’ payments recipients where the recipient’s payment or pension was cancelled on 1 January 2017 due to the rebalancing of the assets test parameters by the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015

 

Background

 

On 1 January 2017, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015 amended the Social Security Act and the Veterans’ Entitlements Act to rebalance the assets test parameters for various social security pensions, and certain payments administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. As a result of the amendments to the assets test, approximately 92,300 pension recipients (including 3,600 Department of Veterans’ Affairs recipients) lost both their pension entitlement and their entitlement to a pensioner concession card.

 

Former pension recipients who were over age pension age when the assets test amendment took effect were automatically issued with a commonwealth seniors health card disregarding the income test, which allowed them to receive the energy supplement. Former pension recipients who were below age pension age were issued a health care card, disregarding the income test.  Veterans whose service pension was cancelled under the amended assets test retained their Veterans’ Affairs Gold Card.

 

As a result of losing their pensioner concession card, former pensioners also lost access to hearing services from the Department of Health, as well as access to some state, local government and private enterprise concessions, outside the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction. 

 

This Schedule reinstates the pensioner concession card to former pensioners affected by the assets test rebalance as at 1 January 2017. Former pensioners who were issued a commonwealth seniors health card will continue to hold the card, but pensioners issued a health care card will not retain the health care card once they are qualified for the pensioner concession card.

 

The amendments made by this Schedule commence on 9 October 2017.

 

Explanation of the changes

 

Part 1 - Social Security amendments

 

Amendments to the Social Security Act

 

Item 1 inserts new subsection (1B) into section 1061ZA which provides for qualification for pensioner concession cards.  A person will then qualify for a pensioner concession card if, immediately before 1 January 2017, the person was receiving a social security pension, and the Secretary is satisfied that the rate of that pension was nil on 1 January 2017 because of the operation of the amendment made by Part 1 of Schedule 3 to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015. This will only apply if the person is not otherwise qualified for a pensioner concession card on that day. 

 

Items 2 and 3 insert references to new subsections 1061ZA(1B) and 1061ZA(5) into subsection 1061ZA(3).  These amendments will have the effect of limiting new qualification for the pensioner concession card under new subsection 1061ZA(1B) to those persons:

·       who are in Australia or only temporarily absent overseas for up to 6 weeks, and are Australian residents; or

·       who meet the requirements of new subsection 1061ZA(5). Inserted by item 4 below.  

 

Item 4 is a technical amendment, amending the existing reference to “scheduled international agreement” to read “scheduled international social security agreement”.

 

Item 5 inserts new subsection (5) into section 1061ZA, which provides for the residential qualification for pensioner concession cards for persons previously paid a pension because of the scheduled international agreement between Australia and New Zealand. .  A person who was receiving a social security pension immediately before 1 January 2017 solely because of the operation of the scheduled international agreement between Australia and New Zealand will qualify for a pensioner concession card if, immediately before 1 January 2017, the person was receiving a social security pension and the Secretary is satisfied that the rate of that pension was nil on 1 January 2017 because of the operation of the amendment made by Part 1 of Schedule 3 to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015.   

 

Items 6, 7 and 8 repeal sections 1061ZRA and 1061ZRB which provided for the automatically issued health care cards issued to such pensioners on 1 January 2017, and make consequential amendments flowing from the repeals.

 

Amendments to the Social Security Administration Act

 

Items 9 and 10 consequentially amend section 11 relating to claims, to remove reference to automatically issued health care cards.

 

Item 11 amends section 37A to repeal subsection 37A(2A) which refers to the duration of automatically issued health care cards.

 

Item 12 amends subsection 106B(4) providing for the definition of a section 1061ZA pensioner concession card to except cards for which a person qualifies under subsection 1061ZA(1B), to make it clear qualification for such cards is not affected by cancellation of any social security pension or benefit.

 

Items 13, 14 and 15 consequentially amend subsection 240A(3), paragraphs 240C(1)(a) and (2)(a) and subclauses 3(6) and (7) of Schedule 2 to remove references to section 1061ZRA, repealed above.

 

 


Part 2 – Veterans’ entitlements amendments

 

Item 16  inserts a new subsection 53A(1A).

 

New subsection 53A(1A) provides that a person will be eligible for fringe benefits (in effect, a veterans’ entitlements pensioner concession card) if:

·         immediately before 1 January 2017, a person was receiving a service pension or income support supplement; and

·         the Repatriation Commission is satisfied that the rate of that pension was determined to be nil on 1 January 2017 because of the operation of the amendments made by Part 1 of Schedule 3 of the Social Services (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015; and

·         the person is otherwise not eligible for fringe benefits under section 53A.

 

The effect of new subsection 53A(1A) is to restore eligibility for a pensioner concession card to those persons who had lost eligibility for the card from 1 January 2017 when the amendments made by the Social Services (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015 rebalanced the assets test parameters by increasing the assets test free areas and the taper rate by which a pension will be reduced once those free areas were exceeded.

 

 


 

STATEMENT OF COMPATIBILITY WITH HUMAN RIGHTS

 

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the

Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

SOCIAL SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (ENERGY ASSISTANCE PAYMENT AND PENSIONER CONCESSION CARD) BILL 2017

 

SCHEDULE1 – ENERGY ASSISTANCE PAYMENTS

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.

Overview of the Schedule

This Schedule creates a new one-off Energy Assistance Payment to recipients of the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension, Parenting Payment Single and veterans and their partners paid the Service Pension or the Income Support Supplement or a qualifying compensation payment. Recipients must be payable and residing in Australia on 20 June 2017 (the test date).

 

Those people who have made a claim for payment on or before the test date and subsequently have that claim granted, will also be paid the one-off payment.

 

No payment would be made to persons who do not generally live in Australia, or people who are not in receipt of payment including those who are suspended on the test date (which may include people who are in gaol on the test date).

 

The rate of payment would be $75 for singles and $62.50 per member of a couple and it is intended would be received by the majority of recipients by 30 June 2017. People who have made a claim for payment on or before the test date and subsequently have that claim granted, with the result that the underlying payment is payable to them on 20 June 2017, will likely be paid in 2017-18. The payment will be tax exempt and not count as income.

 

Amendments will be made to the Social Security Act 1991, the Social Security Administration Act 1999 and the Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986. Changes will also need to be made to the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997.

 

Human rights implications

Schedule 1 of this Bill engages the following human rights:

·         The right of everyone to social security in Article 9, and the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for an individual and their family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and the continuous improvement of living conditions in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and

 

The right of everyone to social security and an adequate standard of living

 

The objective of creating a new one-off Energy Assistance Payment promotes Article 9 and 11 providing further payment to assist in achieving an adequate standard of living. The pursuit of this objective also promotes human rights by supporting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

The rights of the child

 

This one-off Energy Assistance Payment promotes Article 26 by enhancing the rights of the child to social security, as the payment will be made to a group of recipients with children, including recipients of Parenting Payment Single. The one-off payment is targeted at more vulnerable groups of recipients and has a flow on effect to the children of recipients by increasing the support for families.

 

Conclusion

 

This Schedule is compatible with human rights because it promotes the protection of human rights to some of the most vulnerable groups in society.

 

 

[Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP]


SCHEDULE 2 – REINSTATING PENSIONER CONCESSION CARD TO CANCELLED RECIPIENTS

 

This Schedule is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011.

Overview of the Schedule

Schedule 2 will provide a pensioner concession card to various social security pensioners and veterans’ payments recipients where the recipient’s payment or pension was cancelled on 1 January 2017 due to the rebalancing of the assets test parameters by the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015

On 1 January 2017, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Fair and Sustainable Pensions) Act 2015 amended the Social Security Act and the Veterans’ Entitlements Act to rebalance the assets test parameters for various social security pensions, and certain payments administered by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. As a result of the amendments to the assets test, approximately 92,300 pension recipients (including 3,600 Department of Veterans’ Affairs recipients) lost both their pension entitlement and their entitlement to a pensioner concession card.

 

As a result of losing their pensioner concession card, former pensioners also lost access to hearing services from the Department of Health, as well as access to some state, local government and private enterprise concessions, outside the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction. 

 

This Schedule reinstates the pensioner concession card to former pensioners affected by the assets test rebalance as at 1 January 2017. Former pensioners who were issued a commonwealth seniors health card will continue to hold the card, but pensioners issued a health care card will not retain the health care card once they are qualified for the pensioner concession card.

 

Human rights implications

Schedule 2 of this Bill engages the following human rights:

 

The right of everyone to social security and an adequate standard of living

 

The objective of reinstating the Pensioner Concession Card to former pensions promotes Article 9 and 11 by assisting a cohort of people who have previously been eligible for a pension and associated benefits, but who lost their entitlement in the rebalancing the assets test measure. Schedule 2 recognises that this cohort lost their entitlement to concessions without any change in their income or assets, and as such this measure will help facilitate access to concessions and benefits for a group of people that may have limited ability to increase their employment capacity. The pursuit of this objective also promotes human rights by supporting the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

 

The rights of the child

Reinstating the Pensioner Concession Card promotes Article 26 by enhancing the rights of the child to social security as the card continues access to concessions for dependants (including children) of the card holder.

 

Conclusion

This Schedule is compatible with human rights as it does not raise any human rights issues.

 

 [Circulated by the authority of the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP]