Media Release by The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

Reforms of waiting periods for newly-arrived residents to pass Parliament

Joint Media Release with:

  • Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, Leader of the Government in the Senate

Changes to the Australian welfare payment system now expected to pass Parliament will further deliver on the Liberal-National Government’s commitment to build a welfare system that is fair, targeted and sustainable.

The Government has secured support for passage of the Promoting Sustainable Welfare Bill this week.

For new migrants granted permanent residency from 1 January 2019, the Newly Arrived Resident’s Waiting Period will increase for certain payments and concession cards.

The changes will only apply to people granted a permanent skilled or family visa on or after 1 January 2019. The new waiting periods will be:

  • four years for working age payments, such as Newstart Allowance and concession cards, such as the Low-Income Health Care Card
  • two years for Carer Payment, Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay, and
  • one-year for Carer Allowance and Family Tax Benefit Part A.

The changes support the Australian Government’s goal to improve the sustainability of the welfare system and encourage greater self-reliance where it is fair and reasonable to do so.

The increased waiting periods reflect the nature of these payments and capacity of skilled and family migrants who come to Australia to work or to be with family, who should be self-reliant during their initial settlement period.

These changes also make sure the support is there for those who need it most.

No waiting period will be applied for Family Tax Benefit Part B, which will mean continued support to single parent migrant families or those who have one main income earner so they can balance work and caring responsibilities.

From 1 July 2019, there will also be changes to better target family payments, including:

  • applying a 30 per cent taper to income above the Family Tax Benefit Part A higher income free area
  • providing a one-off increase to the higher income free area to $98,988 from $94,316 until 1 July 2021, when indexation will resume
  • extending the existing pause – started under the previous Labor government – on indexation for the:
    • Family Tax Benefit Part A higher income free area and Family Tax Benefit Part B primary earner income limit at $100,000
    • Parental Leave Pay and Dad and Partner Pay income limits at $150,000 for a further year from 1 July 2020, with indexation to resume on 1 July 2021.

In effect, the increase to the higher income free area of Family Tax Benefit Part A combined with the higher taper rate will rebalance payments so that more people on lower incomes will see an increase in their payment.