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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2378

Senator COLEMAN —I ask the Minister for Social Security to comment on the statement by Sir William McMahon on lunchtime radio today in relation to the assets test. Given that Sir William could be considered 'a tall poppy', in name only, perhaps the Minister will give the Senate an example of how Sir William will be affected by the test to which he has now given approval.

Senator GRIMES —Yes, I did hear Sir William's comments on lunchtime radio. I am sure Sir William will be pleased to be described for the first time in his life as a tall poppy. Sir William McMahon, of course, is a very responsible and respected politician in this country. He is a man of great judgment, both political and economic. I remember that he once said there had been only one better Treasurer than him, and that was Bill Hayden. He now says there have been two, Paul Keating and Bill Hayden. I suppose Sir William would be Australia's number one pensioner, and of course he would be affected by the assets test. But , like most reasonable people, he accepts the fact-as he said today-that we need a needs-based social security system and that to have a needs-based social security system without consideration of assets is a nonsense. As he said, the government is right in principle and right in practice. I am sure there are many other Liberals and ex-Liberals who support Sir William's words. That will be demonstrated in the next few days.