Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1543

Senator COLSTON —I direct a question to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. I refer to a comment in Monday's Courier-Mail that, in relation to service pensions, the pensions manual is essential reading. Do service pensioners or service pensioner applicants need to purchase a copy of this manual, or does the Department of Veterans' Affairs inform pensioners and pensioner applicants of their rights and ensure that these people receive their correct entitlements?

Senator GIETZELT —Yes, my attention has been drawn to an article that appeared I think in Monday's Courier-Mail which is misleading in a number of respects and, to the extent that it is misleading, creates unnecessary reaction, concern and fear in the minds of those who have read the article. Firstly, the manual cannot , as Mr Asprey suggested, be purchased through the Australian Government Publishing Service outlets as he claimed. However, the manual is available at each branch office of the Department of Veterans' Affairs and can be inspected there under the freedom of information legislation. Relevant pages-I emphasise that-can be photocopied at 10c per page.

The other point that needs to be stressed to show the misleading nature of the article is that if service pensioners take Mr Asprey's advice and obtain the full text of the manual they will be involved in considerable and unnecessary expense because the Government has taken a number of steps to prepare information, bulletins and pamphlets which are readily available, as well as establishing a hot line both in the Department of Social Security and my Department, the Department of Veterans' Affairs. Officers at the branch offices are specially trained to give information to pensioners generally. So there is absolutely no need for people to be put to the trouble of getting access to the manual and/or photocopying pages of it which probably would do more to create confusion than to assist them in understanding what is involved in the assets test. I hope that the people who set themselves up in the daily newspapers as advisers to pensioners give correct advice and not misleading information.