Brakes put on Government's Omnibus Bill

14 February 2017
After exhaustive consideration, the Nick Xenophon Team will not support the Government’s Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017.

The Team considers the Child Care Reform measures contained in the Bill to be important for families and the sector, but it believes that these reforms come at too high a cost to families by way of the scrapping of Family Tax Benefit (FTB) supplements (without adequate compensation) and cuts to Paid Parental Leave.

The Treasurer’s announcement that any savings from the Omnibus Bill will be tipped into the NDIS Savings Fund are considered by the Team to be ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and viewed in the same way as holding child care reforms hostage to FTB cuts.

"As a negotiating tactic, this is as subtle as a sledgehammer. Pitting battling Australians against Australians needing disability support services is dumb policy and even dumber politics," said Senator Xenophon.

Under reported scenarios, a family with a shared income of $75,000 could be about $1,000 a year worse off after FTB changes. A single parent on an income of $60,000 with one child in high school aged 17 would be over $3,000 a year worse off.  The Government’s modelling of FTB and child care shows some families who do utilise child care, would be better off - but this is only within the narrow parameters on which the modelling was based.

"This is fundamentally flawed policy, and fundamentally unfair," said Rebekha Sharkie, Member for Mayo and NXT spokesperson for Social Services. 

"Of course we support child care reforms. Of course we support a fully funded NDIS. But these measures should never be off the back of our nation's most disadvantaged," said Ms Sharkie. 

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.

The Team 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.

The Team firmly believes that before considering cuts to everyday Australian families, the Government needs to:

  • take future company tax cuts for big business off the table at this time;
  • crack down on multinational tax avoidance and ensure companies such as Google and Facebook pay their fair share;
  • urgently free-up funds in the Automotive Transformation Scheme to stem the flow of jobs as auto-making shuts down in this country in October, in order to keep people off welfare and contributing to the nation's prosperity; and
  • establish an Emissions Intensity Scheme which will lower power prices for families, pensioners and businesses and increase reliability. 
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