Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Bill Shorten has today introduced legislation which supports more Australians into work.
This package of three measures delivers almost $300 million in additional support to help job seekers to transition to work:
• $258 million to allow around 800,000 Australians on income support earn $100 a fortnight, up from $62, before their payment is affected;
• $39.7 million to provide eligible single parents with $62.40 per fortnight for education and training or $31.20 for a concessional study load; and
• $2.2 million that extends access to the Pensioner Concession Card.
These measures build on the Gillard Government’s $1.1 billion Income Support Bonus which provides $210 a year to singles on income support and $350 a year for couples.
“The Gillard Labor Government believes that everyone who is able to work should be able to benefit from the economic security and dignity that having a job brings.”
“These measures will help more unemployed Australians transition into work and share in the benefits of the nation’s economic strength.”
“This Government wants to avoid the entrenched disadvantage that can arise from long periods of joblessness,” Minister Shorten said.
“The Liberal Party’s only plan is to rip away the $1.1 billion Income Support Bonus from around $1.4 million Australians struggling to make ends meet.”
“The Gillard Government is supporting Australians in the transition to a job while the Opposition wants to cut support to the bone.”
The increase to the Income Free Area means that Australians on income support (Parenting Payment Partnered, Newstart Allowance, and Widow, Sickness or Partner Allowance) will be able to earn up to $38 more a fortnight before their payments are affected.
The Income Free Area will be increased for the first time in more than a decade and indexed by CPI from 1 July 2015 for the first time in Australia’s history, ensuring the real value of this increase is maintained over time.
About 150,000 Australians are expected to benefit with an average increase of $19 a fortnight to their payments, or an average of $494 a year.
A further 650,000 people on income support stand to benefit from 20 March 2014 if they take up work.
The Bill, introduced in the House of Representatives today, also includes a $39.7 million to provide single parents on Newstart Allowance with extra help for study and training.
From 1 January 2014, around 90,000 single principal carer parents receiving Newstart Allowance who take up approved study will be entitled to the Pensioner Education Supplement (PES).
The PES is paid at a rate of $62.40 per fortnight or $31.20 per fortnight for a concessional study load and is designed to help principal carers gain valuable skills and qualifications to compete in the labour market.
It is expected that around 25,000 additional single parents moving from PPS onto Newstart will take up the PES over the next four years.
Single parents will be entitled to additional support through a $2.2 million investment that extends access to the Pensioner Concession Card and helps smooth the transition to work.
The Pensioner Concession Card entitles holders and their dependents to potential benefits from bulk billed GP appointments, reduced out-of-hospital medical expenses and medicines listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme at the concessional rate.
The Gillard Labor Government is investing for the future, putting jobs and economic growth first and protecting the important services that Australians rely on.