The Society opposes the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017, which seeks to erode Australia's social safety net and slash funding to vulnerable families and social security recipients. The Omnibus Bill includes a host of contentious and socially damaging provisions which, if enacted, would result in $5 billion being cut from family assistance and the social security system. This submission critically examines these provisions and their social and economic implications. It also challenges the rhetoric of 'budget repair' that has been invoked to justify this and several other Bills that impose severe cuts on Australia's social security system.
The Omnibus Bill bundles together a host of complex and regressive measures including $2.7 billion in cuts to family assistance payments; reductions in social security payments, the removal of several supplements and restrictions in accessing payments (particularly for young people and people born overseas); and amendments that reduce access to government-funded Paid Parental Leave. Although the child care package will increase overall investment in early childhood education and care, it will result in some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children losing access to subsidised care.
The Government has an obligation to provide family assistance and income support payments at a level that ensures human dignity and an adequate standard of living. The Government also has a responsibility to tackle gender inequities and to ensure all children have access to quality early childhood education – regardless of their parent's income or labour force status. This Bill represents the Government's retreat away from these fundamental responsibilities. If passed, it will further erode an already fragile income support safety net, contributing to inequality and pushing people on low incomes into deeper poverty and hardship.