- A senate committee inquiry into legislation that will permanently establish an expert committee to advise government on the adequacy of Australia’s income safety net, barriers to economic inclusion and other key matters has today handed down its report.
The legislation gives effect to a commitment the Prime Minister made to ACT Independent Senator David Pocock last year to permanently establish a statutory Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee.
In additional comments on the main committee report, Senator Pocock has put forward 12 recommendations. They ensure the legislation fully delivers on the detail of the Prime Minister’s commitment and enhances the committee by incorporating suggestions from advocates and experts in the sector.
The amendments go to concerns around transparency, such as requiring the committee’s report to be published at least 14 days before the federal budget is handed down. They also touch on scope to ensure the Committee has independence in deciding what matters it inquires into but also to ensure it has a formal role in developing and maintaining sophisticated national measures of poverty.
Senator Pocock thanked both the senate committee, and the interim Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee for their work.
“Already in this year’s budget we saw the impact this new committee can have with a modest but long overdue increase in safety net payments,” Senator Pocock said.
“Australia is such a wealthy country and we need to make sure people aren’t being left behind. At its heart that’s what this committee is designed to do.
“Having negotiated with me in good faith last year, I look forward to the government supporting amendments to the bill that give full effect to our agreement.
“I also want to thank the tireless advocates, experts and others working on the frontline for sharing their deep knowledge as part of this inquiry and for the support they provide our communities daily.”
A summary of Senator Pocock’s recommendations is below:
- Recommendation 1: The Bill be amended to require EIAC to develop an annual work plan for each financial year and to consult the joint ministers on that work plan.
- Recommendation 2: The Bill be amended to remove the ability of the joint ministers to direct EIAC to not consider - or only consider - certain matters.
- Recommendation 3: The Bill be amended to require EIAC to publish its annual work plan and to provide authority for EIAC to issue communiques on meeting outcomes.
- Recommendation 4: The Bill be amended to require that the final report of EIAC be released no later than 14 calendar days prior to the release of the Federal Budget.
- Recommendation 5: The Bill be amended to require the joint ministers to formally respond to the recommendations within a report of EIAC within three months of their publication.
- Recommendation 6: The Bill be amended to provide EIAC a formal role in developing and maintaining sophisticated national measures of poverty.
- Recommendation 7: The Bill be amended to allow EIAC to provide advice on measures to end homelessness in their reports to joint ministers.
- Recommendation 8: The Bill be amended to provide that the Committee must comprise at least one member with contemporary experience of engaging with the social security system or a representative of an organisation led by people who experience disproportionate rates of economic exclusion.
- Recommendation 9: The Bill be amended to require that at least one committee member is a person with disability.
- Recommendation 10: The Bill be amended to make clear that the Treasurer and the Social Services Minister must attend at least one meeting of the EIAC over the course of a financial year.
- Recommendation 11: The Bill be amended to limit the powers of the Minister to terminate the appointment of a Committee member.
- Recommendation 12: That the Bill be passed subject to the above amendments.
A copy of the full committee report and additional comments is available at: