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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2273

Senator PATTERSON (12.42 p.m.) —The Australian Democrats have moved these amendments on this aspect of the bill with the intention of ensuring that people who come off the disability wage supplement will not have to reapply for the disability support pension. These amendments will be supported by the coalition.

  The amendments are designed to ensure that there is no gap between people coming off the disability wage supplement and getting back on to the disability support pension. This approach is consistent with the approach the coalition took to the amendments to the mature age allowance. As I stated in the second reading stage, the disability wage supplement is itself supported by the coalition. It provides an opportunity for people with disabilities to work in open employment but to be paid less than the award wage, based on their productivity compared with a person in the same occupation who does not have a disability.

  However, as I mentioned at the second reading stage of this bill, the coalition was concerned that people coming off the disability wage supplement should not be left without support but should automatically qualify for the disability support pension. The coalition believes that such people should not have to make a new claim for the disability support pension, especially as such a claim can take up to eight weeks because of the medical examination requirements. While these amendments provide an automatic entitlement to the disability support pension to a person coming off the disability wage supplement, they do not prevent the Department of Social Security from reviewing the person at a subsequent date.