Seasonal workers incentive scheme passed in Lower House
The Nick Xenophon Team’s proposal for a Seasonal Workers Incentives Trial passed the Lower House today and is expected to sail through the Senate.
The two-year trial will allow up to 6000 Australian job seekers to do seasonal work and earn up to $5000 without affecting income support payments.
The trail came about late last year following a breakthrough agreement on the Backpacker Tax.
Despite a compromise of a 15 per cent tax rate, down from the Federal Government’s 19 per cent, Treasurer Scott Morrison announced the Government would keep its agreement with the NXT for its Seasonal Workers Incentives Trial.
“This is a big breakthrough,” Nick said following the announcement last year.
“The Seasonal Workers Incentives Trial removes the disincentive for people on unemployment benefits to seek seasonal work where there are genuine labour shortages.
“We hope this will be the start of a different approach to welfare to get people into employment without the punitive measures in place now.
“This trial will help more Australians into Australian jobs.”
Ms Sharkie said the two-year trial could assist up to 6000 Australian job seekers to connect with Australian farmers through their job providers.
“This proposal is about widening and deepening the pool from which farmers can draw labour,” she said.
“This is about that bridge into agricultural work and an opportunity for many to try a new style of employment and hopefully stay on the farm.”
Senator Xenophon said the Government had set aside $30 million for the trial which was scheduled to start in July next year.
“From an implementation point of view, we want to get it right,” he said.
“The last thing we want is for it to be rushed and badly implemented.”
The trial was proposed by the NXT in response to the backpacker tax fiasco.
Under the trial, job seekers receiving Newstart or Youth Allowance (Other) for more than three months will be eligible to earn $5000 each year from seasonal work without losing their social security payments.
Their wages would not be assessed under the social security income test.
“Currently people on Newstart can be hit with a cut of 50 cents in the dollar for any money they earn over $104 a fortnight,” Senator Xenophon said.
“If they earn too much they can lose benefits altogether and then have to go through the arduous process of dealing with Centrelink to get them back.”
The trial also offers an annual living away from home allowance of $300 if the seasonal work is more than 120km from a job seeker’s home.
People would also be exempt from job seeking or other mutual obligation requirements while undertaking seasonal work
Employment providers can also be eligible for incentive fees of up to $100 a week for six weeks for each trial participant they place in seasonal work.
“With so many of our unemployed focusing on metropolitan areas and regional cities for work, this scheme encourages them to look to the rural areas and to try work they might never have considered before,” NXT Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said.