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Thursday, 14 February 2002
Page: 205

Dr NELSON (Minister for Education, Science and Training) (10:55 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The purpose of this bill is to amend the Student Assistance Act 1973. The Abstudy and Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) schemes are non-statutory or executive schemes funded through the appropriation acts. The Student Assistance Act 1973 provides the statutory mechanism in relation to debt recovery and administrative appeals for these schemes.

The first amendment is to permit social security, veterans and family assistance legislation overpayments to be offset against benefits payable under the AIC scheme and the Abstudy scheme, as had previously been permitted until 1998.

The second amendment is a minor change to update the definitions in the act to reflect that the Aboriginal Overseas Study Assistance Scheme no longer exists.

The third and final amendment is to increase the seven-day notification period within which students are obliged to notify of certain prescribed events in section 48 and related sections of the act to a 14-day period. This amendment will align section 48 of the act with section 344 of the act, which relates to the notification period for a change of address. It will also provide a consistent approach to the administration of the AIC and Abstudy schemes and other Commonwealth programs administered by Centrelink.

These proposed amendments will ensure greater consistency in arrangements between the Student Assistance Act and the Social Security Act in terms of permitting the recovery of overpayments and also the required notification period.

I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Griffin) adjourned.