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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 84

(Question No. 4868)

Mr Blunt asked the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 11 November 1986:

(1) On what basis does his Department pay the benefits entitlement of one person to a third party.

(2) How many people in each benefit category are affected by this practice.

(3) Is this practice widely used in Aboriginal communities; if so, (a) which communities, (b) how many individuals are involved and (c) what is the total value of the payments.

(4) Has this practice been adopted by any religious or charitable groups or organisations; if so, what organisations (b) how many people are involved and (c) what is the total value of the payments.

(5) When did this practice commence.

(6) What procedures are used to monitor the effectiveness, efficiency and integrity of this particular payment system.

Mr Howe —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) Sub-section 135TC (2) of the Social Security Act permits a pension, benefit or allowance payable to a person under the Social Security Act to be paid to another person on behalf of the first mentioned person. Payment to a third party is usually made at the request of the pensioner or beneficiary. It may also occur where the pensioner or beneficiary is incapable of handling his/her own affairs. Payment of additional benefit payable for a spouse or children may be made to the spouse where it is shown that the beneficiary is not using the benefit for the maintenance of his/her dependants.

(2) Statistics are kept nationally on group cheque payments of pensions to institutions, payments to sheltered workshops and pension payments to individuals. The numbers of individuals covered by such payments as at September 1986 are as follows:

Age Pension...49,709

Invalid Pension...22,148

Sheltered Employment Allowance...9,986

Widow's Pension...593

Supporting Parent's Benefit...101

Rehabilitation Allowance...50

Comparable statistics for unemployment, sickness and special benefits are not available. As indicated in my answer to Question No. 4731 national statistics are not available on payments to institutions through the direct credit method.

(3) No.

(4) Some nursing homes and other institutions conducted by religious or charitable groups use this provision. In view of the large number of organisations involved (see answer to Question No. 4731) I am not prepared to authorise the considerable commitment of resources needed to provide an answer to this question.

(5) A provision similar to Sub-section 135TC (2) was included in the Invalid and Old Age Pension Act of 1908 and the Social Services Consolidation Act of 1947.

(6) See answer to Question No. 4731. This payment system is also subject to normal audit procedures and other departmental review mechanisms of administrative arrangements.