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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3130

Senator HARRADINE —Has the attention of the Minister for Social Security been drawn to an article in today's National Times which gives the impression that the future of the spouse rebate is under attack from certain quarters. Does he agree that ill-considered action in this area might be regarded by the trade union movement as having serious implications for the future of the prices and incomes accord and would be contrary to indications in the Prime Minister's election speech when he promised a general increase in the spouse rebate?

Senator GRIMES —I briefly skimmed the article in the National Times today, which claimed that the Government was considering changes to the dependent spouse rebate. In answer to Senator Harradine's question, first of all I would say that any ill-considered action in any area of income support would not be viewed, I dare say, with great glee by the trade union movement and may or may not affect the accord. Secondly, I have no knowledge of the alleged paper referred to in the article this morning although I did make inquiries about the statement in the article that there had been a meeting of heads of departments this week to consider such a paper. I have been assured by at least two heads of departments that they were not told of such a meeting. If such a meeting was held they were not there and I believe that in any such consideration they should have been. Other than that, I would not comment. I believe that, in all of the areas of income support, such as dependent spouse rebate, family allowances, guardians' allowances, allowances for pensioners' children, consideration will be given during the Budget. All I can say is that under no circumstances will the Government take action about this or any other section of the taxation or social security system which will lower the incomes of low income families.