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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2268

Senator CROWLEY (Minister for Family Services) (5.47 p.m.) —There is one small matter that I would like to add before we move to the conclusion of this debate. Senator Harradine raised concerns about the treatment of housekeeping payments from husband to wife when the wife is at home caring for a child and, therefore, potentially qualifies for the home child-care allowance. Senator Harradine's concern is that periodic housekeeping payments are income for the purposes of assessing the rate of HCCA payment to the wife. The advice I have is that on a strict legal reading of the provisions of the Social Security (Home Child Care and Partner Allowances) Legislation Amendment Bill 1994 and the Social Security Act 1991 Senator Harradine's concerns may be justified. However, there was never any intention to administer the home child-care allowance income test in such a way that periodic housekeeping payments made from one spouse to the other would be taken into account as income of the recipient for the purposes of applying the HCCA income test. I assure the Senate that the HCCA income test will not be administered in this way.

  So as to allay any concerns that Senator Harradine may have, the government undertakes to further consider the legal aspect of this matter with a view to determining whether the act needs to be amended to specifically exclude housekeeping payments—that is, housekeeping payments from husband to wife, or wife to husband—from the definition of income for the HCCA purposes. If amendments prove to be necessary, the government will move the necessary amendments in the winter sittings.