Cruel bill taking hundreds of dollars from JobSeekers must not be rushed through before winter break

The Australian Greens MPs

The Greens will oppose the Streamlined Participation Requirements and Other Measures Bill 2021 that will rip $457 from people receiving Jobseeker and $346 from people receiving Youth Allowance.

“This Bill makes significant changes to employment services, mutual obligations and compliance for income support recipients and the Government is seeking to rush this complex bill through Parliament with next to no scrutiny”, Senator Rachel Siewert said.

The most insidious components of this Bill will delay payment for an estimated 144,000 people using digital employment services. It will mean people engaging with online servicing will only receive income support payments after signing their job plan online. The Department estimates that this change will save them an average of $457 per Jobseeker and $346 per Youth Allowance recipient.

While out of touch Government MP’s might not believe these sums to be significant, for people who have lost work, it means the difference between secure housing, having food on the table, and being able to pay your bills.

This will also place pressure on jobseekers to accept a job plan that is not suitable for them, putting them at risk of being subject to harsh penalties such as a payment suspension.

In contrast, those undertaking face-to-face servicing will receive their first income support payment from the date they attend an initial appointment with their provider.

One of the consequences of the “streamlining” undertaken in this bill is that Parenting Payment is being further entrenched as a participation payment when it comes to job plans, compliance, and employment services.

Parents should not be subjected to compliance measures and this represents the continuation of a significant policy shift that first started under the introduction of the punitive ParentsNext program and which significantly undermines the caring work undertaken by parents.

I have serious concerns about a provision allowing the health and education of a child to be included in a Parenting Payment recipient’s job plan.

There is no reason why the health and education of a child is relevant to a Parenting Payment recipient’s job plan or income support payment.

The changes in this Bill only implement some of the recommendations from the Employment Services Expert Advisory Panel report, I Want to Work.

This Bill continues the Government’s cruel and punitive mutual obligations and JobActive scheme which entrenches poverty rather than supporting people to find work.

The Government has failed to adequately explain why this Bill needs to be rushed. The rushed nature of this process rings alarm bells and suggests the Government is seeking to avoid proper scrutiny of this legislation.

We call on the Opposition and crossbench to support people on income support and oppose this Bill if it comes to the Parliament next week.

The Greens dissenting report can be found here.

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