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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3116

Senator ROBERTSON —My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. In yesterday's House of Representatives debate on the pensions assets test, Mr Peacock cited an example of an age pensioner with $60,000 in cash from the sale of her home who he says, would be severely disadvantaged by the pensions assets test. This cash would, he said, reduce her weekly pension from $85.90 to approximately $43. Will the Minister comment on the accuracy of these allegations?

Senator GRIMES —Mr Peacock, as usual, betrays flaws in logic and mathematics in his statement during the debate which I noted in reading Hansard today. Under the proposed assets test, the lady in question would receive $44.65 a week in pension plus $10 a week in supplementary rent assistance, a total of $54.65 a week. If the proceeds of the sale of her home were invested in, say, Australian Savings Bonds at 11.75 per cent, her investment income would be $7,500 a year or $135.60 a week bringing her total weekly income to $190.25 a week. Mr Peacock's calculations appear to assume that she would earn no income whatsoever from the substantial sum of money she had to invest. I hope that, in assuming that, Mr Peacock is not advocating that we actually maintain the situation where people put large sums of money in interest free deposits.

Senator Chipp —There would be tax involved, though.

Senator GRIMES —By contrast, Senator Chipp, under the current pensions income test, that investment income which she would receive would reduce her pension to $33.10 a week and entirely wipe out her supplementary rental assistance. She would be $21.55 a week worse off than under the proposed assets test. I now turn Mr Peacock's question on himself. I ask: Is he prepared to face the fact that this lady will be $21.55 a week worse off under his Party's policy of repealing the proposed assets test than she will be under the proposed assets test. I think in this sort of situation and in others Mr Peacock may believe he is scoring political points but, in fact, he is adding unnecessarily to the anxiety of people in the community such as the lady he mentions.