Labor can "kill bill" and do the right thing for permanent migrants

2 December 2018

Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff calls on Labor to oppose the Social Services and Other Legislation (Promoting Sustainable Welfare) Bill 2018 when the Senate votes tomorrow, after the Opposition falsely claimed that cross-bench support for the Bill forced it to negotiate a draconian compromise.

Centre Alliance, the Greens, and Senators Tim Storer and Derryn Hinch are all opposed to the Bill and - with Labor - have the numbers to defeat it.

Tomorrow’s draft Senate schedule lists the bill as the first order of government business. If it passes, it will only be because Labor supports it.

“I call on Labor to do what it says it really wants to do – kill this bill,” Senator Stirling Griff says.

The bill (originally named the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Encouraging Self-sufficiency for Newly Arrived Migrants) Bill 2018) will double the waiting period permanent migrants have to wait in order to qualify for a range of social services benefits from two years to four years. It will also, for the first time, impose waiting times for carer benefits, paid parental leave and Family Tax Benefit A. The changes will give Government an extra $1.3 billion over the forward years.

The extended lack of a safety net potentially leaves non-humanitarian permanent migrants vulnerable and at risk of exploitation should they lose their job or if something else significant goes wrong in their lives.

Labor claims it was only forced into this compromise because it believed the cross-bench would let a much worse bill get through. We and other cross-benchers have called this out as a lie,” Stirling said.

Centre Alliance was always opposed to extending the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period (NARWP). Our dissenting report to the bill – which was drafted back in May – makes this quite clear. I have also made this clear to anyone who spoke to me about it.

“I suspect Labor is lying through its teeth when it says it chose the lesser of two evils by negotiating a compromise, and in reality wants this bill to pass so it can use the savings to fund its election promises.”

FECCA withdrew its initial support for Labor’s dodgy compromise on Thursday after it realised the Government's Bill never had enough cross-bench support.

“If Labor doesn’t oppose the bill tomorrow, we will all know it is only doing this for the money, and is simply using the cross-bench as a scapegoat.

“The ball is in Labor’s court.”

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