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Austudy - Labor and Democrats should remember the facts

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MEDIA RELEASE Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs Senator the Hon. Amanda Vanstone

Senator for South Australia

V21/97 24 February 1997


Political point scoring is obscuring the facts over the Government’s changes to the administration of the Austudy Actual Means Test, Minister for Employment, Education, Training and Youth Affairs Senator Amanda Vanstone warned today.

“Labor and the Democrats should remember the facts of the debate,” Senator Vanstone said.

“Austudy remains what it always has been - a tightly targeted benefit designed to assist lower income earners.

“The same applies to the Actual Means Test concept.

“The AMT was originally introduced by the Labor Party with the aim of ensuring that people who minimise their income to avoid tax cannot unfairly claim government benefits. The Coalition supports this goal. /

“The problems experienced in January were the result of the assessment processes adopted by the Department.

“The arrangements I announced last week has changed these processes. The Government has streamlined the operation of the AMT. We have done this because inappropriate administrative mechanisms were rejecting or reducing Austudy claims that would have been restored after a review.

“Our changes will ensure Austudy applicants who have to complete the AMT receive better service.

“Over 520,000 people are expected tg apply for Austudy this year, but only around 20 per cent of these will have to complete the AMT.

“At the moment, only 1,073 Austudy applicants have been ruled ineligible and 7,307 lost some benefit as a result of imputation.

“This is a far cry from the 85,000 figure quoted in some papers today.

“Then again, Labor and the Democrats have never let the facts get in the way when they want to score a point.”

Further information: Christian Kerr, Minister’s Office, 06 277 7460