NXT puts brake on Omnibus Bill

19 Jul 2020

Posted February 14, 2017

The Nick Xenophon Team won’t support the Federal Government’s childcare and social services reforms because too many disadvantaged Australians will have to bear the cost, according to the NXT Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie.

Ms Sharkie said child care reform was important but scrapping Family Tax Benefit (FTB) supplements (without adequate compensation) cutting Paid Parental Leave (PPL) and making young people wait for four weeks without financial assistance to pay for it made the price too high.

NXT also described Treasurer Scott Morrison’s recent announcement that any savings from the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017 would be tipped into the NDIS Savings Fund as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”.

“After you take out the cost of child care reform, a further $4 billion was to be taken away from families, from pensioners, from young people; and so we found this was fundamentally unfair and we could not support this legislation in its current form,” Ms Sharkie said.

“The families who were going to be worse off were those with teenagers. Anyone who has teenagers in their family knows that it’s a very expensive time to raise children.

“A single parent on an income of $40,000 a year with one child in high school in Year 11 or 12, they stood to lose more than $3000 under the proposed Omnibus Bill.

“Now I can’t in all good conscience accept that as a measure, knowing that for that family that could be the point where the child doesn’t go on and finish Year 12.

Across Mayo, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that more than 7,500 families across Mayo receive FTB Part A and over 5,700 families receiving FTB Part B (a payment for single parent or single-income families)

A family with a shared income of $75,000 could be about $1,000 a year worse off.

The Government’s modelling of FTB and child care showed some families who used child care would be better slightly better off, but this is only within the narrow parameters on which the modelling was based.

Ms Sharkie said vulnerable children had their access to childcare halved under the reforms.

“At the moment a child classified as ‘vulnerable’ has access to 24 hours a week of childcare,” she said.

“Under this legislation that same child would only get 12 hours a week for parents who are not working and who are not engaged in any activity.”

Senator Nick Xenophon said the Government’s negotiating tactics over the Bill involving the NDIS were as “subtle as a sledgehammer”.

“Pitting battling Australians against Australians needing disability support services is dumb policy and even dumber politics," Senator Xenophon said.

The Omnibus Bill will be subject to a Senate Committee Inquiry and although the Team respects the committee process it:

• notes that most of the measures within the Bill have previously been subject to an inquiry; and

• overall believes the Bill will remain fundamentally flawed so long as the child care reforms are dependent upon cuts to FTB and PPL.

NXT has previously ruled out, and continues to oppose, the four-week wait for Youth Allowance and PPL cuts at both the initial 18-week proposal and the subsequent 20-week proposal announced by the Government last week.

Should the Government be willing to present the remaining measures separately, the Team would then look at them in light of any recommendations made by the committee.

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