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Thursday, 21 March 2002
Page: 1254


Senator TROETH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (1:34 PM) — Very briefly, the amendments in the Veterans' Affairs Legislation Amendment (Further Budget 2000 and Other Measures) Bill 2002 provide fairer treatment for the partner of a person receiving a periodic compensation payment. They provide for the direct recovery of debts from compensation payers and insurers where there has been an overpayment of income support pension because of the treatment of periodic compensation as ordinary income. They provide fairer treatment for income support recipients in relation to unrealisable assets under the hardship provisions of the assets test, clarify the conditions applicable to income streams under the means test and align the rounding of income support systems with that of the social security system.

With regard to the amendment moved by Senator Bishop, I wish to put on record that the issue of the disability pension being assessed as income is a matter that is under consideration by the review referred to in my earlier speech. Accordingly, the government will await the outcome of this review before considering the matter. This is not a stalling device. It is an appropriate mechanism for enabling ex-service groups and others to make submissions and for these complex issues to be considered. The government does not accept that amendment but commends the bill to the Senate.

Question agreed to.

Original question, as amended, agreed to.

Bill read a second time.