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.

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