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Tuesday, 5 June 1984
Page: 2486

Senator Dame MARGARET GUILFOYLE — I direct my question to the Minister for Social Security. It refers to the question raised by Senator Messner yesterday about pensioners' self-declaration of household and personal assets under the new assets test. I ask the Minister: Will self-declarations be applied to other personal assets such as savings accounts, shares and other investments? Further, can the Minister advise whether the Government will announce other details, such as the deprivation conditions and hardship provisions, prior to the introduction of the legislation?

Senator GRIMES —Senator Messner yesterday asked about the method of operating self-declaration. Under the present income test, as Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle will know, pensioners are asked, for instance, how much money they have in savings accounts and banks. It is necessary only at times to check up on the validity of those statements. The same thing will apply in the self- declaration method to be used with the assets test. People will be asked for a valuation of various assets. It will be only under certain spot conditions, when people give answers which are apparently incongruous or out of proportion-for instance, details relating to the market value of land situated in a particular area-that such valuations will be made. The declarations and the forms on which they will have to be made will be available before the assets test is introduced . The Department, as the honourable senator will be aware, had been working on form design, et cetera, before it was decided the original test would not be proceeded with. That work will proceed now. I certainly have no intention of introducing such forms or declarations without some consideration or without seeking the opinion of those who are likely to be affected, or their organisations.