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ABSTAINED – Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee Bill 2023 - Consideration in Detail - Poverty and committee composition

The majority voted against amendments introduced by North Sydney Kylea Tink (Independent), which means they failed.

What did the amendments do?

Ms Tink explained that:

the first amendment I am moving will require the committee to report on defined national poverty reduction targets. If the purpose of this committee is to help our government and this parliament shift the dial then we must know not just what we are currently dealing with but where we are trying to get to. Improving policy to eradicate poverty for all people in this country should be a central part of the committee's remit. As we are already seeing, growing inequality undermines social cohesion and is detrimental to economic growth. It is pivotal, therefore, that the very committee tasked with providing independent advice to the government on economic inclusion and how to tackle disadvantage put poverty reduction front and centre. My amendments task the committee with setting out the process and time line for the development of national poverty targets and measures and reporting on the progress made to achieve those targets.

Secondly, these amendments require the committee's report to be released to the public at least two weeks before the budget. As we know, the interim Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee was established earlier this year pending this legislation being passed. Yet its primary recommendation—that 'the government, as a first priority, commit to a substantial increase in the base rates of the JobSeeker payment and related working age payments'—was not implemented in the most recent federal budget. Similarly, the interim committee's call for the scrapping of the activity test for child care subsidies went unheeded. This shows us there is a real risk that the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee's recommendations will be ignored by the government, and it is imperative that the committee's report be made public at least two weeks before the budget to give the public, individuals, peak bodies, NGOs and social services time to consider the committee's recommendations and then monitor which are taken up come budget day.

Thirdly, these amendments require that the committee be composed of people with lived experience of poverty. While efforts are being made to ensure that a diverse range of experts sit on the committee, the perspectives of a peak employer group, a business association or an academic are not the same of those of people with real lived experience of poverty and economic disadvantage. Only a woman actually living in a car knows exactly why she is there and why there is no other option, just as only a young person trying to survive in a city while seeking work knows what it's like to struggle, and only an older Australian trying to balance their pension across competing priorities knows what it's like to go without.

To ensure people from all walks of life and all socioeconomic backgrounds can become committee members, these amendments provide for committee numbers to be remunerated. Making committee membership a paid position reduces the risk of people not being able to afford to participate or having limited capacity to participate due to a lack of resources.

Finally, these amendments ensure there is gender equality and Indigenous representation by requiring that 50 per cent of the committee be composed of women and requiring sufficient Indigenous representation on the committee as determined through consultation with Indigenous representative bodies.

Amendment text

(1) Clause 2, page 2 (table item 1), omit the table item, substitute:

(2) Clause 8, page 6 (line 5), at the end of subclause (2), add:

; (h) the process and timeline for developing and achieving national poverty-reduction targets, or, if those targets are already developed, the progress towards achieving those targets.

(3) Clause 8, page 6 (lines 15 to 19), omit subclause (5), substitute:

Timing of report

(5) The Committee must give the report at least 15 business days before the Commonwealth Government budget is delivered in the House of Representatives.

(4) Clause 8, page 7 (lines 1 to 4), omit subclause (9), substitute:

Publication

(9) The Minister must cause a report given under this section to be published on the Department's website within 5 business days after the day it is given under this section.

(5) Clause 11, page 8 (after line 12), after the heading to subclause (2), insert:

(1A) In appointing the Chair and other members of the Committee, the Minister must ensure that at least 5 members are persons directly affected by poverty.

(6) Clause 11, page 8 (line 14), omit "each member", substitute "each of the members not covered by subsection (1A)".

(7) Clause 11, page 8 (lines 29 and 30), omit paragraph (3)(a), substitute:

(a) ensure that at least half of the members of the Committee are women; and

(aa) after consulting bodies representing Indigenous persons, ensure that the membership of the Committee consists of a sufficient representation of Indigenous persons; and

(8) Clause 14, page 10 (lines 3 to 8), omit the clause, substitute:

14 Remuneration and allowances

(1) A member of the Committee is to be paid the remuneration that is determined by the Remuneration Tribunal. If no determination of that remuneration by the Tribunal is in operation, the member is to be paid the remuneration that is prescribed by the regulations.

(2) A member of the Committee is to be paid the allowances that are prescribed by the regulations.

(3) Subsections 7(9) and (13) of the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 do not apply in relation to the office of a member of the Committee.

Note: The effect of this subsection is that remuneration or allowances of the members of the Committee will be paid out of money appropriated by an Act other than the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.

(4) This section has effect subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973 (except as provided by subsection (3)).

Summary

Date and time: 11:20 AM on 2023-11-30
Allegra Spender's vote: Abstained
Total number of "aye" votes: 10
Total number of "no" votes: 54
Total number of abstentions: 87
Related bill: Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee Bill 2023

Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au

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