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Wednesday, 21 August 1985
Page: 80

Senator MAGUIRE —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. I refer to the Government's 1983 undertaking to close the gap between the standard rate of pension and the pension for single unemployed adults without dependants. What will be the difference between the two payments following last night's Budget and how does this difference compare with that in 1983 when the Government's policy was introduced?

Senator GRIMES —When we came to government, the single unemployed in the community had not received increases in their unemployment benefits for many years and, as Senator Maguire said, they no longer had their unemployment benefits indexed. As a result of the policies of the Government since 1983, the gap between the single unemployment benefit and that paid to pensioners has been halved. As a result, the relative positions of those two groups have improved considerably. We always felt that it was wrong to discriminate against the unemployed in this regard, particularly those unemployed who were older than 45 or 50 and who were losing jobs because of changing technology and increased automation. Budgetary restraints have made it not possible to make an immediate reversal of the previous Government's policy, but we will proceed as we have in each Budget. As I said, the deficit between those two pensions has now been halved. We will continue to proceed in that way until we have a fair and equitable system again.