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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31457

Mr PYNE (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Family and Community Services) (9:42 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This bill gives effect to two beneficial family and community services and veterans' affairs 2004 budget measures that require legislation.

Firstly, the bill will exempt all scholarships (or such components of any scholarships) that pay tuition fees or any student contribution amount on a student's behalf, or waive all or part of a student's tuition fee or any student contribution amount, from the social security and veterans' affairs income tests. This extends the exemptions announced in December 2003 in which Commonwealth learning scholarships and full fee-waiver scholarships provided by higher education institutions were made exempt from the social security and veterans' affairs income tests. This will apply to scholarships offered in the secondary, vocational education and training and higher education sectors, and will assist approximately 1,550 students at the present time. However, this number is expected to increase by up to 2,200 students per year by 2008.

Secondly, the bill expands the eligibility criteria for carer allowance by allowing a carer to be qualified for carer allowance if they provide certain care for an adult with a disability, even if they do not live with that adult. This measure recognises that it may not always be possible or appropriate for the carer to live with the person for whom they are providing care, and yet these carers still make a valuable and significant contribution to the community. In many cases this care allows the person with a disability to continue to live in their own home, instead of going into alternative care. This measure recognises that people have different living arrangements, and allows them the flexibility to choose the arrangements that best suit their particular circumstances, without precluding them from receiving carer allowance.

The bill also makes one technical amendment to correct an unintended minor drafting error.

I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Fitzgibbon) adjourned.