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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1249

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second dme.

In his speech on the economy on 11th April the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) announced increases in age, invalid and widows' pensions, long-term sickness benefits and sheltered employment allowances. This Bill will give effect to this announcement. It is proposed to increase the standard rate of pension by $1 a week, and the married rate by 75c a week. The new maximum standard rate of pension will be $18.25 a week, while the maximum rate of pension for married persons and widows without dependent children will now be $16 a week. These increases will flow on to rehabilitation allowances, sheltered employment allowances and service pensions. Long-term sickness benefits payable to adults and other persons qualified for the adult rate of benefit will rise by $1 to $18.25 a week. The rate payable to unmarried minors will rise by 75c to $12 a week.

The Senate will recall that, for reasons associated with the need for economic restraint, the pension increases granted in April and October last year were confined to those pensioners who were receiving pensions at, or close to, the maximum rate. In view of the changing economic climate it is now possible to provide, in addition to the general increases just mentioned, further increases to those pensioners who did not receive any increase, or received only a part increase, in April and October 1971, to restore their relativity with other pensioners. This will mean that a single person without property affecting his position will retain some pension entitlement until his income reaches $46.50 a week. A single pensioner without other income will be eligible to receive some pension until the value of his non-exempt property reaches $24,580. For a married pensioner couple, the equivalent limits of income and property will be $81 a week and $42,920 respectively.

A Class A widow with one child and with no property affecting will now be able to receive weekly income of up to $67.50 before losing her pension entitlement, or up to $71.50 if her child is under 6 years of age or is an invalid. If she has no income, a Class A widow with one child may own property to the value of $30,340, or $32,420 if her child is under 6 or an invalid, before her pension entitlement is extinguished. Thus, apart from assisting existing pensioners, these proposals will enable some people, who are at present excluded from pension entitlement, to become eligible for the first time.

More than 1 million pensioners will benefit under the legislation before the Senate. Mr President, I ask for leave to incorporate in 'Hansard' a short table showing the numbers of pensioners who will receive increases, classified according to the amount of increase.

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