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Monday, 30 August 2004
Page: 26722

Senator PATTERSON (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) (8:50 PM) —We will not be agreeing to the Democrat amendments. For me, when I was contemplating it as a minister, one of the issues with this extension of the carer allowance—and again, with all due respect to the Democrats, they do not have to have the fiscal responsibility—was that there had to be some definition of what we meant by care. Carers who live with the person they care for are available to provide personal care on a daily basis, including overnight. The 20-hour a week requirement for carers who are not co-resident places them in a similar position as to the intensity of care that they provide.

I believe that the bill before the Senate is a reasonable extension of the current carer allowance requirements and recognises the need to support flexible care arrangements in the community. But it also makes some stipulation about what sort of care we expect and assists us in putting some sort of ring fence around the allowance to ensure that there is an expectation as to the level of care provided by people who genuinely care for another person—whether it be a relative who lives two doors down the street, a friend who somebody is looking after in the same neighbourhood, or whatever. That is why we have included a level of care that is a requirement to obtain the carer allowance. We believe that this extension is valuable to those people who care for others but we also believe that there should be some requirements for it. For those reasons we will not be supporting the Democrat amendments.

Question negatived.