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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2371

Senator CHANEY —My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, follows the answers given by Senator Grimes to the questions asked of him earlier in Question Time. Can the Minister tell us the number of people who will be employed in his Department on the development and subsequent administration of the assets test? Can he tell us the number of pensioners covered by his Department whom it is estimated the test will affect?

Senator GIETZELT —In the initial period it is anticipated that the maximum number of people employed by the Department of Veterans' Affairs in respect of analysing the service pension component of the assets test will be around 300-I think precisely 310. However, it is anticipated that most of the basic information is still available to the Department. When the previous Government abolished the assets test, for some reason which I cannot explain, the Department did not alter the form and so the basic information is available. Consequently, the Secretary to my Department advises that it will not require a large workload once the initial work is completed. In those circumstances we do not anticipate a great deal of overheads in the administration of the test after the initial work is done in compiling the information to see who will be affected by the assets test proposal.

Senator CHANEY —I ask a supplementary question. I thank the Minister for his reply, but he did not mention the continuing number of people affected, except to say that it will not be a very heavy burden. He did not mention the number of service pensioners whom his Department estimates will be affected.

Senator GIETZELT —At this stage it is anticipated that anything up to about 5 per cent of the service pensioners will be affected by the assets test announced by the Government today. That can only be an estimate at this stage. I am inclined to the view that this will probably be a fairly realistic analysis of the number of people who will either possibly lose the pension-that is, wealthy people-or those who will be affected by the assets test to the extent that they will have reduced pensions.