The Nick Xenophon Team has announced it will not support the federal government’s package of changes to child care and welfare benefits.
Last week the Coalition introduced a so-called omnibus bill to try to force nearly $4 billion in savings through the Parliament.
The bill included increases to childcare subsidies, and cuts to family tax benefits and paid parental leave.
Yesterday, Treasurer Scott Morrison put pressure on the crossbench to support the bill, announcing the Government would redirect $3 billion to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) if the legislation passed.
“As a negotiating tactic, this is as subtle as a sledgehammer,” Senator Xenophon said.
“Pitting battling Australians against Australians needing disability support services is dumb policy and even dumber politics.”
The South Australian said while his team of three senators and one Lower House MP were supportive of the increases in the childcare subsidies, it should not come at the expense of cutting family tax benefits and paid parental leave.
Without the support of the three Nick Xenophon Team senators from South Australia, the bill now needs the support of the Greens to pass the Upper House — something that appears unlikely.
The Greens do not yet have an official position on the proposal, but have opposed many of the measures in the past.
Labor’s Caucus will officially consider the bill today, after launching repeated attacks on its merits.
Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie hit out at the bill on last night’s Q&A program,
“I can tell you what they can go and do with their omnibus, they can stick it where it fits,” she said.
“This is very cheeky about rolling all [the measures], because they’re never going to get it through.”