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Senate rejects Government’s attempt to duck scrutiny of welfare cuts

The Australian Greens have welcomed the Senate's rejection of the Government's attempt to force a Senate Committee to report on its cruel budget legislation by Monday next week.

The Senate this morning opposed the Government's moves to have the Community Affairs Legislation Committee inquiry into the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment 2014 Budget Measures No. 1 and No. 2 Bills report on the Parliament's next sitting day, Monday 23rd June.

"These bills contain the Government's cruel welfare measures, which will rip billions of dollars out of our social security system. We saw the bills for the first time yesterday, and now the Government is trying to force them through the Parliament without proper scrutiny," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on family and community services said today.

"The measures in these bills include forcing young job seekers to live for six months without income support, changes to indexation of the pensions, increasing the retirement age, cutting and freezing payments for families and single parents and reassessing payment eligibility for some people with disability.

"By trying to force the Committee to report on Monday, we would not have been able to even have a hearing. This huge piece of legislation substantially changes our social security system and will affect the income support of millions of Australians. It clearly needs a substantial inquiry.

"It is unacceptable for the Government to expect the Senate to examine such important legislation in a matter of days. We will now have the Parliamentary winter break to inquiry into the Social Security bills and the Business Services Wage Assessment Tool Bill.

"The Government's reckless behaviour shows a lack of respect for those people in the community who will be affected by these budget measures and is a timely reminder of the importance of a strong Senate, which does not simply rubber stamp bad Government legislation," Senator Siewert concluded.

What's in the Bills?

Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 1) Bill 2014 

1. Cessation of seniors supplement
2. Clean energy supplement renamed energy supplement and indexation ceased
3. Changes to Australian Government payments: CPI-only indexation for parenting payment single from September 2014. Maintaining the eligibility thresholds for Australian Government payments (Family Tax Benefit, working age allowance payments (excluding student payments) and Parenting Payment Single) for three years.
4. Disability support pension - ability to work
5. Limit the six-week portability period for student payments
6. Extend the ordinary waiting period for working age payments
7. Family payment reforms - maintain family tax benefit payment rates for two years

Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (2014 Budget Measures No. 2) Bill 2014

1. Changes to Australian Government payments: CPI-only indexation for pensions from September 2017; Maintaining the eligibility thresholds for Australian Government payments (student payments and pensions) for three years.
2. Disability support pension - portability
3. Young Carer Bursary Programme - income exemption
4. Commonwealth Seniors Health Card - include untaxed superannuation in assessment
5. Remove relocation scholarship assistance for certain students
6. Pensioner education supplement
7. Education entry payment
8. Extension of youth allowance (other) to 22 to 24 year olds in lieu of newstart allowance and sickness allowance
9. Require young people with full capacity to learn, earn or Work for the Dole
10. Family payment reforms, starting 1 July 2015
11. Pension age increased from 67 to 70
12. Date of effect for veterans' disability pension

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