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Monday, 4 June 1984
Page: 2403

Senator SCOTT —My question is addressed to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and it has some relevance to an earlier question today from Senator Robertson. I refer to the weekend Press reports of his statement that some 5,000 service pensioners would be affected by the revised assets test. Does the Minister recall telling the Senate on Friday that 5 per cent of service pensioners will be affected by the test? As the Minister mentioned in his second reading speech last week that there are 369,700 service pensioners, would not such a percentage represent not 5,000 but some 18,500? How does the Minister reconcile the two figures?

Senator GIETZELT —As I indicated in reply to two previous questions on this matter, the figure was anything up to 5 per cent, which means it is only an estimate, and as the Government only finalised its decision on this matter on Friday it is possible that that figure may be exceeded. It will not be possible to make a precise estimate of whether the figures will be 16,000, 17,000 or 18, 000 until such time as the legislation is passed and until such time as we have the information and find out how many people will be caught in having assets above the limit under the proposed legislation. That is assuming, of course, that the legislation is passed by the Senate, which we hope it will be. In respect of the other figure that has been suggested, that is my personal estimation of the number of people who would lose their pensions. It was in that context of somewhere between 2 1/2 per cent and 3 per cent of the actual 200,000 veterans who are service pensioners that I made the estimate when I was asked the question about the number of people who would be affected. That is distinctly different from the figure of 350,000-odd service pension recipients to which Senator Scott referred.