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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 93

Question No. 142

Dr Charlesworth asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 12 May 1983:

Are pensions subject to a delay of almost 6 months between the announcement of CPI increases and the granting of a pension increase; if so,

(a) why and

(b) can this time be reduced.

Dr Blewett —The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(a) Under current indexation arrangements, the standard and married rates of pension are increased from the first pension pay days in November and May each year according to movements in the consumer price index (CPI) over the six months to the previous June and December respectively. Details of variations in the CPI are published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics approximately one month after the end of each quarter.

Indexation increases therefore come into effect approximately three months after the announcement of the CPI figures for the relevant June and December quarters.

(b) Determination of new rates cannot commence before the CPI figure is announced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. When the CPI is known, the effects on various categories of pension are determined and changes to computer programs are made. In view of the large amounts of public moneys involved, these changes have to be comprehensively tested. The minimum lead time for all these processes is some seven weeks from publication.

To ensure that pensioners living in remote areas are not put in risk of receiving their pensions late, printing of the cheques is commenced approximately two weeks before the pension day. As an additional safety margin, a further period is allowed between the finalization of program testing and the printing of cheques, to cover unforeseen delays in distributing programs to all States.