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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3342

Senator VIGOR(11.31) —I raise some points concerning clause 33 of the Superannuation Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1986 and ask some questions thereon. During the Estimates committee process an answer was given to me from a very different angle from that which was covered by Senator Michael Baume during the second reading debate. The second part of the information provided to Estimates Committee C dealt with the number of invalidity pensioners found fit for employment. The number dropped from 126 in 1982-83 to 90, then to 49 and finally to 27 in 1985-86. Altogether, 292 people were found fit to resume work in those four years. However, jobs were found for only 113 of these people in the Australian Public Service or in some other approved authority. Altogether, 137 pensions were cancelled either because people were re-employed or because they unreasonably refused an offer of re-employment. That left over 150 people who were found fit to resume work but were not found a job. This is particularly disturbing as some of these people are currently in receipt of invalidity pensions or various other things, or are being disadvantaged, depending on what is happening to them.

I would like to know whether further efforts have been made to find Public Service positions for the people involved. We are dealing with 400 possible work years, the Commonwealth continued to make invalidity payments to people found fit to resume work. This must represent a waste of several million dollars over that period. I ask the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh), who is present today, what steps are being taken to place more of these fit people within the Public Service. Who has been responsible for the failure to take positive placement action in the past? It seems to me that this is a very important issue, as much public money is being spend in this area.