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Tuesday, 28 February 1984
Page: 14

Senator ELSTOB —My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. It concerns a case where a person who has defaulted on his maintenance payments over several years is now receiving unemployment benefit and is having his accrued maintenance debt paid off in the form of child allowance payments. Will the Minister explain why the defaulting payer is not liable to repay the Department? Does the Minister agree that this system is actually rewarding long term maintenance dodgers?

Senator GRIMES —I am not sure that I have the exact gist of Senator Elstob's question. It seems to me that he is suggesting that someone who has defaulted on his maintenance payments is paying the money back in the form of child allowance or family allowance payments.

Senator Elstob —Exactly.

Senator GRIMES —I assume-I am thinking aloud-that in those circumstances the person receiving the unemployment benefit and the family allowance, or the allowance for children, had custody of the children and was paying his separated spouse back out of those children's allowances. I cannot imagine any way in which the Department of Social Security could force someone in those circumstances to use those allowances in any particular way. However, if Senator Elstob gives me the details of the case I will be perfectly happy to take that matter up with the Department to see just what is happening and whether this is an abuse of the system. I would not like, any more than anybody else, to see the social security system abused in the way that Senator Elstob seems to think it is being abused.