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Wednesday, 9 May 1984
Page: 1818

Senator BOSWELL —My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. I refer to reports in today's newspapers which suggest that the draft report of the Assets Test Review Panel chaired by Professor Gruen will recommend a single level exemption as part of the proposed assets test. Does the Minister agree that such a proposal would disadvantage those pensioners who live in particular geographic regions such as Sydney or coastal New South Wales and whose principal residence or holiday home has greatly increased in value in recent years?

Senator GRIMES —Yes, I did see the report in today's newspaper, and I think yesterday's newspaper, claiming all sorts of things were going to be in the report of the Gruen Panel. It is my understanding that that Panel has not yet finished its considerations. I am to see Professor Gruen tomorrow, I think, and the Panel next week, and I understand that other members of parliament have seen them. It is my understanding that the report will then be written and submitted to the Government some time in the next two or three weeks. That being so, I do not think it is sensible or wise of me or of anyone else to comment on a report which has not been written. As for Senator Boswell's question about the hypothetical situation of a single cut-off point, I assume he means the inclusion of homes and everything else in an assets test and a single cut-off point. The proposal the Government put forward, as Senator Boswell knows, excluded the family home, as did the previous assets test which existed in this country. I would have thought that any test which had a single exclusion rate would have to be set at a very high level. However, I am certainly open to persuasion on that matter. I will look at the report of Professor Gruen's Panel when it arises and consider it with the Government, as I expect all other senators will.