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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2370

Senator COATES —I refer the Minister for Social Security to the Government's assets test and the fact that the income threshold for a single person is not merely half that for a couple. I have seen some criticism of this and suggestions that a married couple who divorce but continue to live together can qualify for two single thresholds. Will the Minister make it clear why the income thresholds are set in this way and why the threshold for a couple applies whether or not they are formally married?

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Coates says, the sort of relationship between the $100 ,000 amount and the $70,000 amount which exists in the assets test is the same sort of relationship which has existed between married and single rates of pensions and the cut-off points for income tests for a long time. The rationale behind this is that there are economies of scale for people living together. The present restrictions in the Social Security Act will apply to the assets test as they do to existing pension requirements-that is, people living in a de facto relationship or a bona fide domestic relationship, as they are described in the Act, will be considered the same as a married couple. That has been the case under the legislation for a great deal of time. We have no intention of changing it. Therefore, there will be no advantage to anyone taking the action that Senator Coates suggests.