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Thursday, 1 September 1994
Page: 756


Senator FAULKNER (Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories) (9.55 a.m.) —I move:

  That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

  Leave granted.

  The speech read as follows—

This Bill will amend the Student Assistance Act 1973 to give effect to two of the measures announced by the Government in the Budget relating to the Austudy/Abstudy Supplement Scheme. The other Budget measures will be implemented by amendments to regulations.

The Austudy/Abstudy Supplement Scheme provides voluntary loans to tertiary students. Under the Scheme, tertiary students may trade in part or all of their entitlement to Austudy or Abstudy benefits for an interest-free loan of twice the amount of benefits traded. Supplement loans are also available to tertiary students who do not qualify for Austudy or Abstudy benefits because of the parental income test where parental income is less than a certain amount (currently $50,000).

Simplification of the rules relating to the repayment of Austudy or Abstudy benefits

The first measure is simplification of the rules relating to the repayment of benefits. This will make it easier for a student to repay benefits and therefore to maximise the amount of his or her Supplement loan. If a student who has received Austudy or Abstudy benefits decides to apply for a Supplement loan, the student may repay part or all of the benefits received to maximise the amount of the loan. From 1 January 1995, a student will be able to repay benefits at any time during the year. At present, benefits received during the periods from 1 January to 31 May or from 1 July to 30 September must be repaid before the end of the period. This measure is expected to generate savings to outlays on benefits of about $6 million a year.

Making Supplement loans available to certain students not eligible for Austudy or Abstudy benefits because of the spouse income test

The second measure is making Supplement loans available to students who are not eligible for benefits because of the application of the spouse income test where spouse income is less than a certain amount ($35,000 in 1995). This measure will be effective from 1 January 1995. This measure is expected to cost $0.21 million in 1994-95 and about $0.4 million in subsequent years.

I present the Explanatory Memorandum and commend the Bill to the Senate.

  Debate (on motion by Senator Panizza) adjourned.