In this submission, the Society urges the Parliament to reject the latest attempt to abolish the Energy Supplement for people receiving income support.
The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Ending Carbon Tax Compensation) Bill 2017 seeks to cut income support payments by abolishing the Energy Supplement for new recipients of income support and anyone who commenced a payment after 20 September 2016. This measure was first introduced in the 2016 Budget, and has been rejected by Parliament several times. If enacted, it would slash $933 million over three years from the social security system and affect 1.7 million people including Age Pension recipients, Disability Support Pensioners, Carer Payment recipients, Parenting Payment recipients, and people who receive Newstart or Youth Allowance.
The Society believes there is no sound basis for the Government's latest attempt to remove the Energy Supplement from the most vulnerable Australians. At a time when energy costs are escalating and many income support recipients are falling further below the poverty line, this Bill would reduce income support payments and further erode Australia’s already fragile income support safety net. The justifications for the measure are flawed, with energy prices significantly higher than they were before the carbon tax legislation was repealed. In this submission, we also challenge the Government’s assertion that the Energy Supplement must be abolished to repair the Budget and guarantee the sustainability of Australia’s welfare system. This latest attempt to remove the Energy Supplement risks compounding the inequities in our tax and transfer system and exacerbating the disparities between the wealthiest and the least wealthy.