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Thursday, 28 November 1985
Page: 2471


Senator HAINES —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. Has the Government made a decision about whether recipients of German reparation payments will no longer have that money included under the definition of income in the Social Security Act 1947? If it has, when will it make that decision public? If the decision is to exclude German reparation payments from the definition of income, when will the change come into effect and will it be made by way of ministerial directive or some other method such as amending legislation?


Senator GRIMES —Senator Haines and I will both be pleased to know that the Government has decided to exclude such payments from definitions of `income' under the social security legislation. Mr Howe, myself before him, Senator Chaney before me, and Senator Dame Margaret Guilfoyle before him, I think, were conscious of the problems of recipients of German restitution payments in that those payments were treated as income for pension calculations. It is now considered by the Government, in the light of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision, about which Senator Haines knows, that such payments should not result in a reduced rate of pension. The Minister has decided to adopt the procedure recommended by the AAT in several decisions, and it will apply from 5 March 1985, which was the date of the first AAT decision.

Essentially, this means that when German restitution pensions are by way of compensation for loss of property, or where such loss forms an indefinable but substantial part of those payments, they will be exempt from income for the purpose of the calculation of pension-which, I assume, will mean essentially all German restitution payments of that type. The decision was announced by Mr Howe yesterday, I think. The Council of Australian Jewry, which had been active with Senator Haines and other people in this regard, was notified. I understand that some sort of formal announcement was made earlier today. I shall seek any further details for Senator Haines, but it is my understanding that now, essentially, all those payments will be not recognised.