Labor attacks government’s wages record – as it happened
Just a quick note on the Coalition’s proposed integrity commission.
The shadow attorney-general, Mark Dreyfus, today criticised the government for its lack of progress on establishing a federal integrity commission, something it promised to do in late 2018.
Dreyfus said the proposal was not even on the government’s published legislative agenda for 2019.
But attorney-general, Christian Porter, has reaffirmed the government’s intention to finalise a bill by the end of the year. In a statement to AAP, Porter said the draft was currently being prepared and would be released for public consultation once ready.
”The experience at the state level has been that this is the worst possible area in which to engage in policy on the run,” Porter said.
“This is one area where the hard detailed work must come before the headlines.”
The Coalition’s proposal has faced significant criticism for its weaknesses.
It will be unable to hold public hearings into public sector corruption, cannot take tip-offs from the general public, requires a high threshold of evidence before investigations can begin, and will be unable to make findings of corrupt conduct. Critics say it has been set up in a way that effectively shields politicians.
The Greens have proposed a stronger model and passed legislation through the Senate on Monday with the support of Labor and parts of the crossbench.
The Greens will face a difficult task in getting their legislation before the lower house.
Thousands of mature-age students – including Newstart recipients, single parents and the disabled – would have their welfare payments slashed under a revived Morrison government plan.
On Thursday, the Coalition re-introduced legislation to parliament that would effectively reduce two top-up welfare payments received by older students who do not study full-time.
The changes, which would save the budget $80 million, mean a person studying part-time would get half the annual $208 education entry payment rather than the full amount. The $62.40 a week pensioner education supplement will also be tightened.
It comes as the Coalition pushes ahead with plans to drug-test welfare recipients and expand the cashless debit card to the North Territory, and as it refuses to heed calls to lift the rate of Newstart allowance.
The Australian Council of Social Service (Acoss), which opposes the bill, says 56,100 people – mostly disability support pensioners and people receiving parenting payment single and carer payments – would be impacted by the cuts to the education entry payment.
Changes to the pensioner education supplement would impact about 39,700 people who would no longer receive this payment during university semester breaks, Acoss says, while about 30,000 would have these fortnightly payments cut in half because they study part-time.
The Department of Social Services previously told 9,629 Newstart recipients also received one or both of these two supplementary payments. The government consistently points to supplementary payments as a reason why Newstart does not need to be raised.
The bill, which also bars students studying overseas from receiving the Relocation Scholarship, to save a further $1.9 million, was rejected by the Senate in the previous parliament.