Federal Budget changes
•The Federal Government has not been able to pass some of its most extreme Budget proposals through Parliament. However some smaller changes, which may affect members or their families, have passed as follows:
•to include untaxed superannuation income in the income test for the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, and increase overseas portability of the card from six to 19 weeks (from 1 January 2015)
•to review Disability Support Pension recipients under 35 under the current impairment tables and apply program of support requirements
•to limit overseas portability of the Disability Support Pension in most cases to 28 days in a 12-month period
•remove relocation assistance for students relocating within and between major cities (from 1 January 2015), and
•reduce the primary income earner income limit for family tax benefit part B from $150,000 to $100,000.
Cancellation of welfare payments on national security grounds
The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Act 2014 includes a measure giving the Attorney-General discretion to bar a person from receiving social security and family assistance payments indefinitely. The Attorney-General may exercise this discretion if a person’s passport has been cancelled or refused, or their visa cancelled, on national security grounds
International social security agreement between Australia and India
Australia and India have entered into an agreement in relation to social security. Among other things, this will provide for former Australian residents living in India to claim the Australian Age Pension.
Changes to job seeker compliance rules
A new penalty has been created for non-attendance at appointments and appeal rights have been removed in relation to a decision by Centrelink to suspend payments.
Federal Budget measures related to social security which have not yet passed
The following Budget measures have not passed through Parliament; however, they are still on the Government books:
- an increase in the Age Pension age to 70, and
- a six-month waiting period for job seekers under 30 (subject to some exemptions).
In addition, the Government proposes to abolish the existing student startup scholarships that are currently paid to recipients of student payments to help them with the up-front costs of study. The scholarships would be replaced with a loan option.
The IEU is affiliated to the Welfare Rights Centre and can refer members to the centre regarding issues of social security.