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Monday, 29 May 1989
Page: 2972

(Question No. 985)

Senator Maguire asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 11 May 1989:

(1) Is it correct that if blind persons working in sheltered workshops have to go on workers' compensation, then the total value of any payments they are receiving, such as sheltered employment allowances and/or a spouse's invalid pension, are subsequently reduced by the amount of their worker's compensation payment, resulting in anything up to a 50 per cent reduction in their total household income; if so, can this situation be justified on the grounds of equity and fairness, which underlie our Social Security system, or is this simply an anomaly in the legislation;

(2) If this is an anomaly, will the Government be taking steps to rectify it.

Senator Bolkus —The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) and (2) The effect of workers' compensation on blind recipients of sheltered employment allowance or invalid pension is no different from the effect on other invalid pensioners or sheltered employment allowees.

Successive Governments have maintained the principle of employer or insurer responsibility for work-related illness or injury. Hence, the exemption of permanently blind people from the income and assets tests otherwise applied to invalid pensioners and sheltered employment allowees, does not extend to exemption from the compensation deduction, preclusion and recovery provisions of the Social Security Act.