Government addresses ‘agenda’ issues: welfare, superannuation and refugees – September 2016

Filed under: Economy and Finance, Superannuation, Politics, Australian Politics, Social and Community,

With the Prime Minister overseas and Parliament not sitting again until October 10, the Government has taken the opportunity to re-focus on which could be said to constitute its post-election agenda.

It has been criticised for failing to clearly outline its agenda.

Commentator Michelle Grattan wrote that “adapt a phrase often used by Scott Morrison, it started to “wash its face” in this second week of the new parliament.”

Social Services Minister Christian Porter released the first findings of a longitudinal study of welfare, showing how people move in and out of welfare over their lives.

The research provides the basis for a radical “investment approach” to cut the number of people accessing benefits.

The first report focuses on the likely experience of welfare of young carers, parents and students before the government turns its attention to older Australians next year.

The “investment approach” to welfare, recommended by the February 2015 MccLure welfare report and adoped in the May budget, aims to use the power of big data to cut the number of people on welfare through targeted interventions in their lives.

The Government says the data will shift the welfare debate from simply being about spending more money “to how we spend money in the right areas to improve lives”.

It has created a $96 million “Try, Test and Learn Fund” to allow states and territories, the non-government sector, academia and stakeholders to road test ideas for reform, which will follow similar experiments in New Zealand and recommendations last year of the McClure review of Australia's welfare system.

The study says that among 11,000 young people acting as carers, 16 per cent will access income support in each year for the rest of their lives, while on average current young carers are expected to be on income support in 43 years over their future lifetime and only 27 per cent of all Carer Payment recipients under 25 continue to study beyond high school

The Opposition’s initial reaction to the project was that it raised more questions than it answered.

On the defence front, the Government acknowledged that Australian aircraft were involved in a US-led operation which killed dozens of Syrian soldiers who were apparently mistaken for Islamic State fighters, but declined to give details.

Between 62 and 83 Syrian soldiers who had been fighting IS militants were reportedly killed in the air strikes.

Treasurer Scott Morrison announced important changes to the Government’s superannuation proposals which had been strongly opposed within the Coalition but he has rejected calls from both Liberal and Nationals back-benchers that he abandon the proposed tax on backpacker earnings.

He also announced that another 16 international investors will have houses worth up to $2 million forced onto the market, after they were found in breach of Australia's foreign investment rules.

More than $90 million in property has been forcibly sold, with the latest 16 properties worth $14 million combined.

In January, the Federal Government ordered the sale of eight properties illegally bought by foreign investors, totalling $8.3 million.

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