Feb 15th 2018

Government attempt to scrap safety net for migrants will entrench discrimination against new Australians

The Federal Government today introduced a bill to block new migrants accessing the social safety net for three years, including new measures to prevent migrants accessing paid parental leave or support when a loved one becomes terminally ill.

GetUp’s Human Rights Director, Matthew Phillips, said the bill would create an underclass of new migrants.

“Our social safety net is supposed to exist for all, but this Government is looking for permission to discriminate between two Australian newborns in the same hospital ward based on when their parent arrived in this country,” Mr Phillips said.

“The Government seems determined to create two classes of people in our community, where a person's worth is assessed by how long they’ve been here.”

Under the Government’s proposal around 50,000 families will be forced to wait three years before they can receive family tax support, paid parental leave or bereavement support. A further 30,000 individuals would also be impacted by the changes.

GetUp said it has today launched a campaign along with Australia’s migrant and multicultural communities to call on parliamentarians to oppose the legislation.

“The Government is determined to block and delay access to the most basic parts of our social safety net, including support when your partner dies or when you have a new baby.

“This means the Bosnian father working night shifts isn’t entitled to the same support as his colleagues for school uniforms and books for his kids. The Italian mother who arrived in Australia three years ago isn’t entitled to maternity leave to stay at home with her new baby.

“We learnt just this week that the Turnbull Government has failed to get some of Australia's largest companies to pay any corporate tax for the last three years. Instead of forcing big business to pay its share, this Government is entrenching discrimination by ripping away the social safety net for people who are new to Australia, just when they are struggling to put food on the table or spend time with a new baby.”