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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2204

Senator MESSNER(10.18) —I turn to the Department of Finance. I want to establish the position with regard to invalid pensions. The Minister will know of the discussions we have had in this place and in the Estimates committees about the availability and the granting of invalid pensions. Since this Government came to power there has been a change of practice, particularly in New South Wales, with regard to the degree of impairment which medical officers employed by the Commonwealth would use as the yardstick in order to establish eligibility for invalid pensions.

I am interested to know from the Department of Finance its views of the effect of this upon the revenue and whether the Forward Estimates which have just recently been announced and have been the subject of discussion in this place in the last week and, of course, part of the Government's mini-Budget have been severely pruned as a result of other decisions that the Government may have taken or whether they have inflated. It seems from the Forward Estimates report that was made available to members of parliament recently that there is a substantial increase in the cost to the Commonwealth of invalid pensions. As a result I would like to know whether the Department of Finance is taking a very great interest in this matter. It seems to be an area of blow-out on the Budget which tends to offset considerably the so-called savings that the Government has been claiming as part of the mini-Budget announced last Tuesday.