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Wednesday, 16 October 1985
Page: 1306

Senator HARRADINE(11.38) —I believe that the Australian Democrats' amendment has some merit. I am concerned about the effect that the abolition of the concessional rebate will have on large families. A family with a number of children could have a history of dental problems, for example. I know of families where children one after another have grown buck teeth-I do not know whether that is the professional word-and have had to go to orthodontists. It is a tremendous cost burden for such a family. At present I think the cost for orthodontal treatment is of the order of $1,400 or $1,600 a pop.

Senator Messner —It will be taken as part of that rebate. That is fine. The $1,000 rebate will work in favour of that person for expenses in excess of that amount.

Senator HARRADINE —I would have thought that not all of it is covered by medical benefits. I understand that only about half is covered. As I understand the argument thus far-I have only just entered the debate, having been absent-the proposal that has been put forward by the Australian Democrats would mean that any amount above $500 would attract a concessional benefit of only 30 per cent of the total amount that is paid. As Senator Siddons said, this arrangement will not get out of hand because of the inbuilt situation under which concessional deductions attract a rate of only 30 per cent.

My real concern is for people with a number of dependent children. I suppose that is a concern which is felt right throughout the community. There is a considerable degree of concern by some people in the community, particularly by one-income families with a number of dependent children, that the Government has forgotten them in this Budget. It is not for me at the Committee stage to address that issue. I will leave such remarks until we deal with the supplementary tax statement of the Treasurer (Mr Keating) which I understand will be brought before the Parliament when we next sit. However, I believe that the Democrats amendment at least seeks to sweeten the pill a little and to ensure that the legislation has less effect on larger families than would be the case if the current proposal put forward by the Government were implemented.