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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 353

Senator Grimes —On 13 May 1985 (Hansard, page 1797), I undertook to obtain further information for Senator Giles in answer to a question about payment of pensions directly to the bank accounts of beneficiaries. The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer:

The payment of pensions directly to accounts held with banks, building societies and credit unions has been generally well accepted by the clients of the Department. At present 83 per cent of all pensioners are being paid by direct deposit as are 85 per cent of all family allowances.

Invitations have been forwarded to unemployment and sickness beneficiaries requesting details of an account into which they would like their benefit payments to be credited. As not all responses have been received, statistics on acceptances cannot be provided at this stage. However, it is expected that the acceptance level will be similar to that for pension and family allowance payments. Those unemployment, sickness and special beneficiaries who have requested payment directly to a financial institution have received payments in that manner from 17 June 1985.

The co-operation of approximately 600 financial institutions has been vital in the changeover to direct deposit payments for pensions and family allowances. These institutions have again assisted the Department by participating in a trial of the processing required for direct deposit of unemployment benefits.


Senator Walsh —On 14 May 1985 (Hansard, page 1880), Senator Foreman asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations, a question without notice concerning proposed youth traineeships. In my reply, I undertook to seek further information from the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations. The Minister has provided the following response:

The Government has already endorsed, in principle, the concept of youth traineeships and has undertaken wide ranging consultations with State Governments, unions and employers to gauge the level of support for the concept and its practical implementation.

Those consultations have resulted in widespread in-principle support for traineeships and for their practical development including from the Tripartite National Labour Consultative Council and Commonwealth and State Ministers for Labour, Youth and Education.

The Government will soon be considering a detailed action plan for implementing a substantial initial program of traineeships in 1985-86.


Senator Button —On 20 May 1985 (Hansard, page 2129) Senator Jack Evans asked me whether the Government would initiate an inquiry into secret donations to State branches of national political parties by companies which are granted government contracts, to determine whether decisions made by State governments are unjustly influenced by such donations.

The Acting Special Minister of State has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

The Commonwealth Electoral Act now requires State branches of political parties to provide the Australian Electoral Commission, within 20 weeks after an election, details of all gifts exceeding $1,000 received since the previous election. The Electoral Commission is currently examining the returns made after the 1984 federal elections to make sure that they comply with the legislation, and has the power to institute prosecutions in the light of the evidence available. Furthermore the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform is conducting a wide-ranging inquiry into the operation of the new electoral laws at last year's election.

The new provisions on election funding and financial disclosure constitute a significant deterrent to the type of incident referred to by the honourable senator.