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Tuesday, 17 November 1964

Senator HENTY - The Treasurer has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator's questions -

1.   As shown on page 46 of the Treasurer's " Statement of Receipts and Expenditure " for the year ended 30th June 1964, the balance in the

Superannuation Fund as at 1st July 1963 was £102,689,341 and as at 30th June 1964, it was £115,865,303. With increasing numbers of contributors to the Fund and increases in pension entitlements, the balance has been increasing each year but there have of course been corresponding increases in the contingent liabilities of the Fund.

2.   As from 1961, the value of the unit of pension under the South Australian superannuation scheme has been £1 a week.

3.   The value of the unit of pension under the New South Wales superannuation scheme is £1 a week; under the Victorian scheme the value of certain units of pension, but not all, is £1 a week. Since 1954 the value of the unit of pension under the Commonwealth superannuation scheme has been 17s. 6d. a week. 4 and 5. It may appear on the surface that the contributor to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund is at a disadvantage as his units of pension are valued at only 17s. 6d. a week, but when considered in terms of the number of units for which he may contribute, and therefore the percentage of salary at retirement which his pension represents, and the proportion of the total pension which is met from the Consolidated Revenue Fund and not from employee contributions, the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund benefits compare very favourably with those of the various State funds. Pension entitlements are equivalent to approximately 70 per cent, of salary for those on lower and middle range salaries, reducing to about 50 per cent, of salary for senior officers. Of the total amount of each pension the Commonwealth meets fivesevenths and the contributor, through his contributions, two sevenths.

Since 1947 there has been a number of adjustments in existing pensions under the Superannuation Act designed to afford relief to those who have been adversely affected by the postwar rise in prices. The earlier adjustments were made by flat increases in the value of the unit of pension but more recent adjustments have been made on the basis of bringing the Commonwealth's share of each earlier pension up to the level which would have applied had the pension commenced at a later date. This change in policy was adopted because flat increases in the unit value provide much smaller increases for earlier pensioners than for their successors in office who, because of higher salaries in more recent years, became entitled to a greater number of units and whose retiring pensions had not deteriorated to the same extent, because of the shorter period since their retirement.

The Government periodically reviews the position of all Commonwealth pensioners and will continue to do so. When any further funds can be allocated for the assistance of superannuation pensioners, it is likely that they will be distributed along similar lines to those of the 1961 and 1963 Acts which concentrated the funds available upon the relief of those with the greatest need by bringing the Commonwealth's share of all existing pensions up to the level that would now apply had the pensions commenced at the end of 1959. If the total pension payable as a result of those increases is divided by the number of units of pension held at the date of retirement, it will be found that the payments now being made are equivalent to a unit value well above 20s. a week in many cases and in excess of 45s. a week for some pensioners.

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