Within the Turnbull government there is gnashing of teeth in the wake of the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) giving the thumbs down to the omnibus bill.
This bill includes the childcare reform package and trade-off savings in cuts to family tax benefits. It also has a raft of other measures that the government had previously been unable to pass, among them a four-week wait for unemployed young people seeking income support.
By this week, the NXT – whose support was crucial to pass the legislation – was heading to opposing the bill anyway. But Monday’s announcement that A$3 billion of savings from the bill would be hypothecated to help pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) gave it an added justification.
The announcement, at a joint news conference by Treasurer Scott Morrison, Social Services Minister Christian Porter and Education Minister Simon Birmingham, was designed to increase the pressure on the crossbench. But all it did was put pressure of a different kind on the government.
It was soon portrayed as a reprehensible use of the disabled as a bargaining chip. As the NXT said in its Tuesday statement, it was considered to be “‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ and viewed in the same way as holding childcare reforms hostage to family tax benefit cuts”.
“As a negotiating tactic, this is as subtle as a sledgehammer,” Nick Xenophon said.
Porter wore much of the public odium. But the hypothecation idea had come from Morrison…(continues)
SOURCE: Michelle Grattan, “Morrison pushed NDIS ‘hypothecation’ announcement despite caution about timing from Turnbull’s office”, The Conversation, 14 Feb 2017
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