Newly arrived migrants will have to wait four years before becoming eligible for some Centrelink payments.
It is believed that the legislation, passed by the Federal Government at the end of November, will save the budget $1.3 billion over four years.
The new laws will only affect skilled migrants and their families, not refugees.
The Labor Opposition has been criticised for supporting the legislation, although it only agreed to support the government after introducing some amendments to “water down” the effects, arguing that the legislation would have been much harsher if the government was supported instead by those who oppose migration more strongly.
The Labor amendments mean the waiting time will be increased to only one or two years for carers’ payments, parental leave pay and the Family Tax Benefit A. The waiting time for Newstart will increase from the current two years to four years.
The Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia (FECCA) originally expressed support for Labor's compromise deal, but have joined those critical of Labor’s move.
FECCA Chairperson Mary Patetsos said that FECCA originally accepted the amendments “on the understanding that there was not enough support in the Senate to defeat it”. Ms Patetsos says FECCA now believes that the combined votes of Labor and Greens Senators with Cross-bench Senators could defeat the legislation.
The legislation follows a snap decision by Prime Minister Scott Morrison to cut immigration numbers by 30,000. FECCA says this decision “showed a lack of leadership and was driven by dubious polling”.