On 3 June 2013, the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations invited the Society to make a submission to its inquiry into the Social Security Amendment (Supporting More Australians into Work) Bill 2013. The Society welcomes the opportunity to contribute this submission.
The Society believes that every Australian has the right to adequate income, to education, and to housing.
The Society has serious doubts that the current legislation is securing the long-term, sustainable fulfilment of the duties that the government holds to the people in this regard, for the following reasons:
1) The reforms may be thought of as a substitute for the proper, wide-scale social reforms necessary to achieve the inclusion of our most disadvantaged. The first such reform is a $50 per week increase to the base rate of Newstart.
2) It is discriminatory to withhold study support to some Newstart recipients, only on the basis that they do not have full-time dependent children. All recipients have the right to assistance in accessing education that will help them into work.
3) The threshold for the 60% taper rates of Newstart should not be decreased, as it is the current legislation.
4) The 60% taper rate must be indexed, as the 50% taper rate will be.
5) The rate of indexation should be relative to average weekly earnings. Indexing only to CPI ensures that those on Newstart will fall further and further behind the minimum wage, and further behind the average Australian income.