The federal government’s plans to reform paid parental leave arrangements and cut family tax benefits have hit a speed bump, with the Nick Xenophon Team revealing this morning it will not support the Coalition’s “omnibus” bill of welfare changes.
The bill includes a proposal to extend paid parental leave entitlements by two weeks, at the same time as preventing new parents from “double dipping” by accessing both government-funded and employer provided parental leave.
The government is also seeking to make cuts to family tax benefits in order to pay for increased funding for childcare services.
However, the Nick Xenophon Team, which holds three Senate seats and one seat in the House of Representatives, said in a statement this morning that it will vote against the legislation.
While the minor party supports the proposed increased funding for childcare services, it believes the changes “come at too high a cost to families by way of the scrapping of family tax benefit supplements (without adequate compensation) and cuts to paid parental leave”.
In particular, the party has taken issue with the Coalition’s decision to link the potential savings from the bill with funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“As a negotiating tactic, this is as subtle as a sledgehammer,” the party said.
“Pitting battling Australians against Australians needing disability support services is dumb policy and even dumber politics.”
The Nick Xenophon Team outlined a list of policy changes it would like to see take place before the government considers “cuts to everyday Australian families”.
These include not pursuing company tax cuts for “big business … at this time”; a “crack down on multinational tax avoidance”; feeing up funding for the Automotive Transformation Scheme to protect vulnerable jobs; and establishing an Emissions Intensity Scheme to “lower power prices for families, pensioners and businesses and increase reliability”.
Fairfax reports the government is expected to split the “omnibus” bill and attempt to secure support for individual proposals. However, with the government’s ability to pass all of the individual measures now in question, it may be forced to look elsewhere to either cut spending or raise additional revenue.