The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017 combined a number of welfare payments, including Newstart, sickness, and bereavement allowances, into a single jobseeker payment. The Senate requested amendments, or changes, to the bill, and waited until the House of Representatives had agreed to the changes before finally agreeing to the bill and reading it a third time.
In supporting the Senate amendments, the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Dan Tehan MP, said in the House that the bill ‘is critical to ensure that our welfare system remains strong and sustainable into the future.’ The opposition supported the amendments, but argued that the bill would leave disadvantaged Australians with less support. The Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, the Hon Jenny Macklin MP replied, ‘We do not think this will make Australia a fairer or stronger place’.
Measures to introduce drug testing of jobseekers were previously removed from this bill. The measures have been introduced in a separate bill, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Drug Testing Trial) Bill 2018, which is currently before the House of Representatives.