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Tuesday, 15 August 2000
Page: 16343


Senator DENMAN (3:02 PM) —My question is to Senator Newman, the Minister for Family and Community Services. Can the minister advise the Senate exactly how many pensioners who applied for an aged persons saving bonus have, because of confusing application forms, been wrongly issued cheques that include $2,000 meant only for self-funded retirees? Can the minister also confirm that these individuals have been advised to bank their cheques but not to spend them and to lodge an objection with the tax office? What steps will the government take to advise pensioners that their cheques may be in error and to ensure no further cheques are sent out without being checked?


Senator NEWMAN (Minster for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) —No, I am not aware of that. I will check it out.


Senator DENMAN —Madam President, I ask a supplementary question. While the minister is checking, can she also confirm that until last week pensioners who had been underpaid pension bonuses because of outdated Centrelink records were told to lodge tax returns in order to recover the correct amounts of bonus? Given that Centrelink has now issued instructions to make ex gratia payments to rectify these mistakes, will the government now assist those pensioners who acted under previous advice and paid an accountant to prepare a tax return? Would the minister check that too, please?


Senator NEWMAN (Minster for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) —Yes, Madam President.


Senator Hill —Madam President, I ask that further questions be placed on the Notice Paper.