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Wednesday, 13 May 1981
Page: 2360
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Mr Howard —On 31 March 1981 (Hansard, page 1087-8) Mr Tambling asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Finance, a question, without notice, concerning superannuation coverage for the Northern Territory Government's permanent part-time employment scheme.

The Minister for Finance has provided the following information in answer to the honourable member's question.

The introduction of permanent part-time employment in the Australian Public Service and other areas of Commonwealth employment is currently under consideration by the Public Service Board and other employing authorities such as Telecom Australia.

The Department of Finance has been examining the superannuation arrangements that are capable of being provided to permanent part-time employees should the Government decide to extend superannuation cover to them.

Northern Territory employees comprise a relatively small proportion of the number of contributors to the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme. It would not be appropriate to consider extending cover under the Superannuation Act to permanent part-time employees of the Northern Territory before decisions have been taken on the terms and conditions to apply to permanent part-time employment in the Commonwealth generally. Such terms and conditions are primarily the responsibility of the employing authorities.

I understand the matter may take some time to resolve but arrangements have been made to keep the Chief Minister informed of progress.

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Mr MacKellar —On 30 April 1981 (Hansard, page 1807) Mr Cunningham asked me a question, without notice, concerning hospital insurance cover for confinements.

The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Health funds generally have waiting periods not exceeding two months before basic medical and basic hospital benefits are paid to a new contributor. Basic medical benefits currently cover at least 75% of the Schedule medical fees with a maximum patient contribution of $10 where the Schedule fee is charged. From 1 September 1981 the basic table will cover 85% of the Schedule fees (with $10 maximum patient contribution). Basic hospital benefits provide full cover to the equivalent of the cost of shared ward accommodation in a public hospital (currently $50 a day). From 1 September, while the charges may increase, full cover for shared ward accommodation will remain.

Other exclusions from benefits such as for pre-existing conditions are not permitted for basic levels of benefits. This means that persons joining a health fund now, including obstetric cases, would be entitled to basic benefits after two months.

Because of the new arrangements to be introduced from 1 September 1981, and the changed circumstances that will apply to many people, health funds will be required to waive the waiting period for basic benefits for new members joining between 1 September and 31 October 1981. This is to allow people adequate time to make insurance arrangements so as not to be disadvantaged because of waiting periods that would otherwise apply.

People seeking higher insurance cover e.g. 100% medical and higher levels of hospital accommodation, generally are subject to further exclusions on the additional benefits (nine months waiting periods for obstetric cases, exclusions for pre-existing conditions, maximum benefits etc).

These restrictions will not be subject to waiver between 1 September and 31 October 1981.

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Mr Malcolm Fraser —On 24 March 1981 (Hansard, page 812) Mr Keating asked me a question, without notice, concerning royalties for Bass Strait oil.

The following is in answer to the honourable member's question:

In accordance with the offshore petroleum legislation, royalties are assessed on the wellhead value which is determined by deducting from the selling price certain costs involved in the processing and transportation of the oil from the offshore platform to the selling point. Payments of crude oil excise are also deducted. Where crude oil excise is not payable, the wellhead value will be higher and royalty payments accordingly greater. The legislation provides for basic royalties to be shared 40 per cent to the Commonwealth and 60 per cent to the States.

The current arrangments for determining wellhead value in regard to Bass Strait production were agreed by the Commonwealth and Victoria. This joint approach will continue under the revised offshore petroleum arrangements when they become effective under the offshore constitutional settlement, but in the event of any irreconcilable difference the Commonwealth will have the final say. The current royalty sharing arrangements are to continue under the new legislative arrangments.

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