Andrew was proud to support the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) in the House of Representatives because for too long people have had to negotiate a complex web of underfunded government and community services which were not adequately meeting individual needs.
Inadequate government support for the large number of children in Tasmania on the autism spectrum is a serious issue and Andrew has worked with parents to lobby the Tasmanian Government to deliver better services and support, including specialised schools for children on the autism spectrum.
Andrew believes that older Australians deserve to live with dignity and independence in their home or in the aged care facility of their choice. Those choosing to live at home must be given every reasonable assistance and support for both them and their carers.
Regrettably there remains a great many problems in the aged care sector and Andrew is doing everything he can to agitate for reform.
Examples of the sort of problems that are plaguing aged care include excessive fees and tightening criteria for home support services, a shortage of residential care places, and a lack of resources for the aged care places that do exist. Making a bad situation worse will be the effect of the recent budget cut of $1.2bn to aged care.
More must be done by the Federal Government to adequately support and recognise the invaluable work of carers. Andrew has spoken in the media on this issue and identified five funding objectives that will better support carers financially, physically and emotionally.
1. A carer’s access to government assistance should not be reduced by changes to his or her total asset base, including property and cash, so long as that base doesn’t increase beyond the level that existed when they became a carer, indexed for inflation.
2. Adequate training and support should be provided by government for carers.
3. Improved advocacy services should be available to help carers access the services and financial assistance that suits their situation and family needs.
4. Carers payments should be increased by the superannuation guarantee levy, and paid for by the Government, to address the current inequity of retirement incomes and savings.
5. Services should be properly resourced and coordinated for carers across jurisdictions and care sectors to ensure that carers, and those they care for, receive the benefits of these services.
Federal funding for affordable housing should continue and there also need to be more effective state funded programs to assist first home owners. Australia is in need of housing tax reform and Andrew believes the recommendations in the 2010 Henry Review would be a good starting point for such discussions.
Andrew supported the National Rental Affordability Scheme and has advocated that it be reinstated permanently with adequate funding to support investment in low cost rental housing. Andrew has called repeatedly for the Commonwealth Rent Assistance payment to be lifted by 30 per cent to keep up with rising rents.
Andrew supports the establishment of a social housing growth fund to turn around the decline in social housing for low income households. The housing debt of close to $200 million from the 1970s is still being slowly repaid by the Tasmanian Government to the detriment of social housing services in Tasmania and Andrew has lobbied the Federal Government repeatedly to waive that debt.
Andrew believes that neither party has got it right in regards to negative gearing and capital gains tax as the Liberal Party isn’t going far enough while Labor is going too far. It is true that the current tax concessions are excessively generous, but the problem doesn’t lie so much with regular people who might have a single investment but rather those investors with big property portfolios.
Moreover the capital gains tax discount is irrational and should be abolished. It is excessive, skews the property market and is part of the reason why first home owners are being shut out. The money saved by the removal of concessions such as a windback of negative gearing and the abolition of capital gains tax concessions for investors should be re-invested into low cost housing and first home owner grants.
Andrew called for a review of Family Law and the Child Support systems and the motion was passed by the House of Representatives in May 2012. However neither the previous Labor Government or current Liberal Government established this review so Andrew has reintroduced the motion twice more to push for fair outcomes for everyone in family law.
Paid Parental Leave
Andrew doesn’t support the Government’s prevention of so-called “double dipping”. He has argued publicly that the Government should be supporting measures that allow new mums to spend a sensible period of time at home with their child, and the six months of access to dual paid parental leave is surely something to celebrate. For the government to attack personally the beneficiaries of these arrangements is scandalous and dishonest.
Family Tax Benefit
Andrew opposes all of the Government’s changes to Family Tax Benefit A and B arrangements except for the tightening of the means test. The Government’s continuing intention to cut Family Tax Benefit Part B will hammer low income families, and in particular single parents.
Andrew welcomed the Government’s announcement that it has reversed the decision to slow the indexation of the Age Pension.
Andrew does not support the changes to the assets test threshold for the Age Pension, not least because they are a disincentive to accumulating superannuation and because the new thresholds are simply much too low in the current economic environment where many retirees hold conservative investments attracting a low return.
Andrew opposes the cuts to the Seniors Supplement for Commonwealth Seniors Health Card holders.
Defined benefit pension
Andrew opposes the changes to the income test treatment of defined benefit pensions. He also believes it is wrong to make any changes to super without appropriate grandfather provisions which ensure such changes only apply to future recipients and not current or imminent recipients. Andrew introduced a motion to this effect.
It’s very disappointing that the Federal Government has delayed the implementation of its child care subsidy package for a year. There is no doubt that making child care more affordable helps families and also boosts the economy by getting more parents back into the workplace. The Government has had more than enough time to develop these reforms and get them ready to go by their initial implementation date of 1 July 2017. It’s hard not to see the decision to delay them by another year as a cynical money-grabbing exercise.
It has long been clear to Andrew that a succession of governments, and in particular the previous Labor and current Liberal federal governments, have been targeting single parents.
For example the Gillard Government removed the Parenting Payment from single parents after their youngest child turned 8, which was a dreadful reform because no single parent should be expected to be able to hold down a well-paid job between school drop off and school pick up. Now instead these single parents are expected to live on the low rates offered by Newstart.
Another example is the current Abbott/Turnbull Government’s removal of the Schoolkids Bonus and Labor’s refusal to reinstate it. And let’s not forget the Coalition’s proposed changes to the income test, including a pause to indexation on the amount a person can earn before their payment rates are affected, as well as proposed cuts to the Pensioner Education Supplement, the Education Entry Payment, the Income Support Bonus and the phase out of the Family Tax Benefit Part A and Part B end-of-year supplements.
Andrew has a particular interest in the circumstances confronting single parents, not least because he’s a single dad himself.