Vinnies opposes this Bill, which is discriminatory, unfair and inequitable.
The Bill seeks to: (i) extend the time people must reside in Australia before they can access pensions; (ii) stop the payment of pension supplements after six weeks overseas; (iii) increase the taper rate of family tax benefit part A for middle-income families; and (iv) lengthen the liquid assets waiting period for people receiving support payments.
These measures are deeply unfair, inequitable and unnecessary. Increasing waiting periods and reducing access to support payments will erode an already fragile social safety net, contributing to inequality and hardship for people on low incomes. Measures that disproportionately affect people from migrant backgrounds are also divisive and inequitable, undermining the universal and non-discriminatory basis of Australia’s social security system.
This Bill perpetuates an unbalanced approach to “fiscal repair” which relies exclusively on social spending cuts. It will have a discriminatory and disproportionate impact on certain segments of our society, particularly vulnerable people from migrant backgrounds and women. This coincides with a renewed push from the Federal Government to restrict access to citizenship and redefine visa arrangements in ways that reinforce exclusion and the marginalisation of the most disadvantaged migrant cohorts. This includes the withdrawal of social security and other social protections to certain classes of residents and asylum seekers, along with proposals to restrict access to permanent residency. Such measures risk creating a two-tier class of residents and fostering social divisions. In the context of an increasingly toxic political debate around migration, we believe many of the Government’s proposals around migration and citizenship represent a disturbing development in Australia’s social and political landscape, and one that must be actively resisted.
The measures proposed in this Bill are, in short, neither simple nor fair. The Government’s justification that the proposed cost-savings are necessary to rein in welfare spending are indefensible, and reflect a fundamentally unfair policy approach that will contribute to increasing inequality and, ultimately, to a more unfair, unjust and divided society.