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Thursday, 17 October 1985
Page: 1405

Senator CHILDS —I direct my question to the Minister for Veterans' Affairs. I refer the Minister to Press reports of calls to lift the eligibility age for age pensioners to 65 for both males and females. Is it the case that females are eligible for the service pension at age 55, five years earlier than males? Is the Minister contemplating standardising the service pension eligibility age for males and females and, if so, what would be the estimated savings from such a measure?

Senator GIETZELT —A publication issued by the Department of Social Security contains a article written by two officers from the Department of Finance, which the Department of Finance indicates it does not necessarily endorse, suggesting that because of the historical development of the social security system the time has arrived for a revision of the age at which pensions should be paid not only to social security pensioners but also to service pensioners. That view, of course, has been similarly expressed by certain right wing think tanks as well as one or two business organisations. So I am aware that a suggestion has been made in the community that because of changing work patterns and longevity there ought to be some revision of the age structures at which pensions are paid. That, of course, is a matter for the Minister for Social Security who was reported in today's Age as indicating that there is no proposition before the Government that he would support for any change in the existing practice.

So far as my Department is concerned, honourable senators would be aware that veterans who have certain eligibility rights get the age pension at 60. This pension is known otherwise as the service pension. There is no bar in terms of age in respect of eligibility of their wives. There is also a provision that women veterans can receive the service pension at age 55. Certainly, I could also indicate, as indeed my colleague Mr Howe has, that I have no intention and the Government has no intention of altering the age factor in respect to the eligibility of those involved in the service pension area.