Migrants facing tougher pension hurdles

Dan McCulloch

Migrants will be forced to wait up to 15 years before qualifying for aged or disability pensions under new laws bound for federal parliament.

The Turnbull government is also reviving a push to cut off pensions to people after six weeks overseas, as part of a bundle of welfare cuts expected to net almost $900 million in savings.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter argues it is reasonable to expect people coming to Australia have contributed to the economy and society before claiming a pension.

Under existing laws, people must have been an Australian resident for 10 years - five of which must be continuous - before applying for a pension.

The government wants to extend this to 10 years of continuous residence - including five years during a person's working life - before they can seek a pension.

Alternatively, migrants may claim a pension after 15 years of continuous residence.

"This will mean that most people accessing the pension will have made some contribution to the Australian economy through paid work and paying taxes before they receive a pension," Mr Porter said on Wednesday.

The measure will only affect about 2400 per year but is expected to save roughly $119 million over the forward estimates.

Nobody who currently receives a pension would be impacted and only 2 per cent of applicants beyond July 2018 are expected to be affected.

The government is also trying again to stop pension payments to people who've been overseas for six weeks and immediately for permanent departures after previously failing to get the measure through parliament.

A raft of other welfare proposals are also woven into legislation to be introduced to parliament on Wednesday:

* Increasing the maximum income test taper of Family Tax Benefit A from 20 cents to 30 cents per dollar once a family's income exceeds a threshold of $94,316;

* Doubling the maximum time somebody has to wait for Newstart, study, sickness or youth allowance if they have liquid assets (such as cash) from 13 to 26 weeks;

* Pegging pensioner education supplements and education entry payment rates to study loans and time spent studying; and

* Restricting student relocation scholarships to people studying in Australia and whose parental family home or usual place of residence is also in Australia.

This would mean students relocating from or studying overseas would no longer be eligible for the scholarship.