September 13, 2016

Labor will protect up to two million vulnerable Australians by opposing the Turnbull Government’s plan to cut the Energy Supplement, whilst delivering on our election promise to deliver budget repair that is fair.


Labor does not believe that pensioners, people with disability, carers or vulnerable jobseekers should be forced to do the heavy lifting of budget repair, particularly when the Turnbull Government is spending $50 billion on a tax cut for big business and the banks.


If the Turnbull Government’s proposed cuts to the Energy Supplement pass the Parliament, Australians already living on very low incomes would be hundreds of dollars a year worse off.


For example, a single mum on Newstart would be $4.40 or $220 a year worse off.


A pensioner couple would be around $10 a week or $550 a year a year worse off. 


A person with a disability would be around $8 a week or $350 a year worse off and so too will be carers.


That might not seem like much to Mr Turnbull but for ordinary Australians it can make a big difference.


Cutting the Energy Supplement risks pushing vulnerable Australians into a cycle of poverty and hardship.


Labor simply cannot support a policy that punishes the poorest Australians.


Labor recognises that the current rate of Newstart is already very low, and can act as a barrier to finding work. During the election campaign, Labor committed to undertake an independent review into the adequacy of the Newstart Allowance.


Labor believes in responsible and fair budget repair. We have proposed additional savings measures to offset the cost of the Energy Supplement.


In order to target assistance to those who need it the most, and to protect families on low incomes, Labor will not oppose the abolition of Family Tax Benefit Part A end of year supplement for families earning more than $80,000.


Whilst we understand that not all families on these incomes are on easy street, we cannot support a cut that would hurt people with much less. 


We are making difficult decisions in order to protect families on low incomes and so that we can afford to protect Medicare, schools and hospitals from Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts.


If the Turnbull Government decides to reintroduce the cuts to the Energy Supplement in a separate Bill, Labor will oppose it.


Labor does not see the case for supporting any further cuts to the FTB end-of-year supplement.


We have also reaffirmed our opposition to a number of zombie measures from the 2014 and 2015 Budget’s, including the one month wait for Newstart.


Labor will also continue to oppose the Turnbull Government’s plan take income support payments away from people in psychiatric confinement who are charged with a serious offence and who are undergoing a course of rehabilitation.


Labor has opposed this measure in the past, and we will continue to do so in this Bill.




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