Welfare white flag
ATTEMPTS to slash a $ 14 weekly supplement to new welfare recipients has been abandoned by the Turnbull government, admitting it has no battle plan to get the cut through federal Parliament.
Eight weeks out from budget night, the government’s razor gang will meet in Canberra next week to discuss billions of dollars worth of stalled welfare savings measures, including the clean energy supplement for new welfare recipients.
The supplement is only one of $ 5 billion in stalled cuts the government continues to count in its savings even though they lack the support to pass Parliament.
The payment was given to pensioners, people with a disability, carers and Newstart recipients by the Gillard government to offset the carbon tax, which was itself scrapped in 2014. Despite opposition from Labor, Greens and the crossbench, Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said the government was committed to axing the payment, which is worth up to $ 550 a year.
But several crossbench senators told The Sunday Telegraph the government was still gauging support for the reform and “might walk away from the plan”.
“They no longer seem committed to this one,” one crossbench senator said yesterday.
The existing legislation to scrap the payment has a start date of September 20, 2017.
During a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra last week, an official from the Department of Social Services confirmed that “there isn’t a new start date” to stop the payment but confirmed the government was still banking the savings in its projections.
The revelation has prompted further speculation the government will drop plans to axe the payment ahead of the May budget.
But yesterday Mr Tehan said the government remained committed to axing the payment which was “no longer necessary” after the repeal of the carbon tax. “The government is working to pass the legislation that is currently before Parliament, but with an amended start date,” he said.
Opposition finance spokesman Jim Chalmers said the clean energy supplement was just one of a number of “fake savings measures” worth more than $5 billion that the government was using to prop up its projected budget surplus.
“As long as all of those fake savings are in there, the Liberals’ dodgy budget isn’t worth the paper it’s written on,” Mr Chalmers said.