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Thursday, 25 June 1998
Page: 4090


Senator NEWMAN (Social Security) (1:33 PM) —I thank the senators for their comments and for their indications of support for the bill. This is an important social policy reform that the government believes is very valuable in giving choice to older people. Senator Bartlett has raised concerns about the potential for the surviving partners of bonus scheme members who have died missing out on payment due to delays in applying for the bonus. I am happy to be able to address those concerns. I undertake to Senator Bartlett that the secretary of my department will be publishing a Gazette notice pursuant to section 92Q that will extend the time for applying for this group by three months, giving them sixth months to apply.

The bill acknowledges that it is in the interests of older Australians, their families, taxpayers, and society generally, that they have the opportunity and encouragement to keep working as long as they wish, and it is a matter of choice. It will maximise their retirement nest egg and it will ensure that their later years are as comfortable as possible. That is why we made an election commitment to deliver a pension bonus scheme. This bill delivers that commitment in full, I am proud to say.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.