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Friday, 20 March 1987
Page: 1088

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I refer the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security to the decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in the case of Ho and the Secretary to the Department of Social Security of November 1986 which stated that an applicant who had children in Vietnam could have sufficient care and control of those children to be eligible to receive family allowance. Can the Minister inform the Senate how many other cases there are in which family allowance is paid for non-resident children and what is the annual cost to the Commonwealth of these payments? I also ask whether the Department has made any estimation of the likely applications for family allowance for families in these circumstances after this decision, and what is the anticipated cost to the Commonwealth.

Senator TATE —No precise figures are available to respond to Senator Crichton-Browne's question but I can say that since April 1986 a total of 252 allowees residing in Australia have been recorded as being granted payments of family allowance for children living overseas. This would include payments for a small number of children who had previously lived in Australia but the majority of children involved would never have lived in Australia. Payment to 252 allowees would total approximately $180,000 a year. The precise number of persons living in Australia who would be able to receive family allowances in respect of children living in Vietnam and other countries, if the AAT's decision in Ho is adopted, is not known. However, it could be expected that the figure would be substantial. That is a prelude to the next point which I wish to emphasise, which is that because the Tribunal's decision in Ho conflicts with earlier decisions in similar cases which interpreted eligibility for family allowances as requiring responsibility for the day to day maintenance, training and advancement of the children involved, an appeal has been lodged with the Federal Court. No hearing date has yet been set down.