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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 370


Senator RYAN —Yesterday, Senator Peter Baume asked me a question about the gap between unemployment benefit and tertiary education assistance scheme payments. He specifically asked whether the gap had widened since the Australian Labor Party had come to office. As student assistance is a complicated area, I thought it might be useful to honourable senators if I clarified the figures on which I based my reply.

Yesterday, I said that the gap had been reduced in the Budget, and that is certainly the case. For 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds the gap was virtually eliminated. The Budget reduced the gap for the over 18-year-olds from the present level of $16.35 to the level in January 1985, when the new rates of TEAS apply, of only $12.43-a reduction of $3.92. However, if one compares the level of the gap in January 1985 with the level in January 1984, one notes a very small increase of $1.08. The consideration really depends upon which months are used for comparisons.

Throughout 1984, because the Government has given its highest priority to the unemployed, the level of unemployment benefit has continued to increase with indexation rises, so that today, in August, the gap between that benefit and TEAS is $16.35. That gap will have been reduced to $12.43 in January 1985 as a result of the decisions in this week's Budget.