Omnibus welfare bill shows the always-tricky politics of budget savings – The Conversation

Extract from an article by Peter Whiteford

The Turnbull government has introduced a new omnibus savings bill to parliament. It has combined and revised several previously blocked welfare measures into a single piece of legislation to try to achieve nearly A$4 billion in net savings over the next four years.

This bill builds on a range of measures introduced by the Abbott and Turnbull governments. Some go all the way back to the 2014 budget. But they have evolved since then, particularly with bills proposed by the Turnbull government in October 2015.

By far the most significant projected savings – A$4.7 billion over the next four years – in the bill are made by phasing out end-of-year supplements for family tax benefit recipients.

However, there are potential risks – either to the government’s budget strategy or to its political popularity over the next four years – should these payments be phased out, or Centrelink’s new computer systems not deliver as envisaged.

What else is in the bill?

The omnibus bill includes the government’s proposed changes to child care. This involves about A$1.7 billion in increased spending between 2016-17 and 2019-20, including some measures not requiring legislation.

The most notable sweetener in the revised package is an increase in rates of family tax benefit by about A$20 per child per fortnight. This will have a much larger overall cost, of close to $2.4 billion over four years. But the government claims budget savings will more than offset these additional expenditures.

The bill’s financial impact statement shows more than A$900 million will be saved through closing the Energy Supplement to new welfare recipients. Changing the age of eligibility for a range of payments will save a further A$430 million…(continues)

SOURCE: Peter Whiteford, “Omnibus welfare bill shows the always-tricky politics of budget savings “, The Conversation, 09 feb 2017

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BroCAP is produced by the two librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia. 


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