New Social Services Amendment Bill Secures $2.4 Billion In Budget Savings

Joint Media Release with:

Senator The Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate

The Government has today introduced the Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, which aims to secure the next instalment of unlegislated savings from previous Budgets. 

This Bill secures further savings of $2.4 billion over the period to 2020-21, building to $6.8 billion dollars over the medium term.

The Government has also reversed a previous decision to increase FTB payment rates, which was to offset in part the effect of the complete phase out of FTB supplements contained in the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) 2017.

Not proceeding with this will reduce costs by a further $2.3 billion over the current forward estimates period compared to the previous Social Services Omnibus Savings Bill, which will build to an $11 billion saving over the medium term.

It is the Government’s intention to pass this Bill and the Child Care Bill through Parliament this week to provide certainty for Australian families and make child care more affordable and accessible.

The new Social Services Legislation Amendment Bill retains three measures from the original Omnibus Bill, including:

  • Maintaining income free areas and means test thresholds for certain payments and allowances at their current levels for three years;
  • Automating the income stream review process which will lead to improvements in the accuracy of income support payments and reductions in customer debts; and
  • Extending and simplifying ordinary waiting periods for the parenting payment and for youth allowance for a person who is not undertaking full-time study and is not a new apprentice.

The new Bill will include a measure to maintain the current Family Tax Benefit payment rates for two years at their current levels from 1 July 2017. This measure will achieve savings of about $2 billion over the period to 2020-21, building to $5.5 billion over the medium term.

This Bill builds on the $6.3 billion in budget improvements already achieved over the forward estimates through the first Omnibus Savings Bill and is another significant step in the Government’s continued path to budget balance.

With today’s Savings Bill, the Government is able to make further progress in locking in savings, which can be secured through the Senate this week.

Consistent with our past practice, in particular since the successful passage of the first Omnibus Savings Bill which secured $6.3 billion in savings, the Government will keep working with all parties represented in the Senate, to keep making progress on budget repair by passing more of the governments remaining savings measures.

We would like to acknowledge the positive way in which the crossbench has worked with the Government to deliver this significant reform package that will make a real and positive difference to nearly one million Australian families.