Local, Independant and Effective
August 20, 2018

Bill tackles a broken social security system

Federal Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan has called on the government to support proposed legislation to establish an independent Social Security Commission.

Ms McGowan introduced the Social Security Commission Bill 2018 on Monday. It would establish an independent body to assess social welfare payments and prevent recipients from falling below the poverty line.

“The Bill responds to the strong message from Indi constituents that the social security system is not working well,” Ms McGowan said.

The proposed legislation is supported by the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), Catholic Social Services Australia, Uniting Care Australia, Anglicare Australia and several Indi-based groups. Respondents to Ms McGowan’s 2018 Indi Budget Survey listed social welfare among their top five concerns.

During Question Time, Ms McGowan asked the Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan if the government would support the Bill. He replied, “…the government is not going to outsource our welfare system…”

“The Government may not be prepared to act, but here we have support from welfare groups for the Commission,” Ms McGowan said.

“The rate of Newstart has not increased in real terms for 24 years. The maximum weekly payment a single person on Newstart can receive is $345, including allowances such as Rent Assistance and the $4.40 Energy Supplement everyone on Newstart receives. This is well below the $433 figure to cover the basic costs of living per week.

“Twenty-four per cent of respondents in the Indi survey rated social services as one of their top three issues. Eighty per cent of respondents ranked social services as either very important or fairly important.

“My office regularly hears from constituents who find the rates of social welfare do not meet the costs of transport to employment interviews or costs of employment related goods. We also hear from people who are struggling to pay bills or buy food.

“The Social Security Commission Bill 2018 offers compassion and fairness to all who access social security payments. It provides dignity to people who have turned to the government for support when they are most in need. People who access social welfare should be able to meet the basic costs of living and support themselves to find employment.”

To watch Cathy’s speech on the Bill or question to the Minister, visit www.cathymcgowan.com.au/video_gallery 

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