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Wednesday, 20 March 1985
Page: 638

Mr TIM FISCHER(7.58) —Tomorrow is cut-over day for the assets test scheme for pensions administered by the Department of Social Security. Of course it was on 14 March that pensions administered by the Department of Veterans' Affairs were cut over to a scheme which has been shown to be shot through with anomaly after anomaly. I support the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Miles), the honourable member for Mayo (Mr Downer) and many other honourable members who have drawn attention to these anomalies. I am prepared even to support the members of the Caucus who yesterday revolted against aspects of the assets test which led to a half-baked assurance in the media this morning that the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and the Minister for Social Security (Mr Howe) would review aspects of the assets test. I challenge the Minister for Social Security to come into this House tonight in the ten-minute extension available to him on the eve of the assets test cut-over and explain what time-table he will apply for looking at a review of the anomalies associated with the assets test, as he indicated in the media this morning that he would. There are hundreds upon hundreds of pensioners across Australia--

Mr Hodgman —Thousands.

Mr TIM FISCHER —Indeed, thousands of pensioners have been ruined in a very severe way by the application of the assets test. I regret to say that the matter of suicide has been raised. I regret to say further that I am advised of one case where the suicide was related specifically to the introduction of the assets test. It will be an acid test of the assets test to see what is the rate of suicide in the over 65-year-olds for the months of March and April 1985. However, I will not dwell on that.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! It being 8 p.m., the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.

House adjourned at 8 p.m.