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Wednesday, 13 June 1984
Page: 2916

Senator MESSNER —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Is it a fact that the Department of Social Security is presently experiencing industrial action brought about by the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association? Is the dispute due to a freeze of staff levels within the Department? Has this freeze been brought about by the haste in which the Government recruited 1,500 staff for its ill-fated and discriminatory assets test mark II'. Is it true, as reported, that the dispute is costing the Department half a million dollars a week because of the officers' refusal to deal with overpayments and to check the identities of people applying for pensions and benefits? Did the Government take this cost into account when assessing the savings and costs associated with the introduction of the assets test mark IV? If not, what is now expected to be the total cost of the Government's mishandling of the whole issue?

Senator RYAN —In order that Senator Messner can have a full and detailed answer to his detailed question, I think it would be better if I referred that question to Senator Grimes, and he can answer Senator Messner accordingly.