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Tuesday, 16 May 1972
Page: 2630

Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact that immigrants cannot receive social service benefits until they have been resident in Australia for a number of years.

(2)   Is it also a fact that special benefits are refused by the Department of Social Services if a guarantee has been signed on behalf of an immigrant.

(3)   Can he say whether many guarantors repudiate their guarantees.

(4)   If so, what action is taken to ensure that guarantees are honoured.

Dr Forbes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   No. Some social service benefits are payable without any residential qualification whatever. Conditions which apply are as follows:

(a)   Maternity allowance. This is paid to all mothers in respect of children born in Australia. No residential qualification applies. The allowance may also be paid in respect of children born on the journey to Australia providing that permanent residence is intended and no allowance is payable by another country.

(b)   Child endowment This is paid to families who enter for permanent residence from the beginning of the first 4-weekly period after arrival in Australia. No residential qualifications are imposed.

(c)   Unemployment and sickness benefits. These are payable without residential qualifications to males between 16 and 65 and females between 16 and 60 who have arrived in Australia for residence and whose employment has been interrupted by unemployment or sickness.

(d)   Invalid pensions. Applicants whose incapacity occurred after arrival are required to have lived in Australia continuously for 5 years at any time. Those who were permanently incapacitated or blind on arrival are required to have 10 years continuous residence before they qualify for a pension. This period is reduced where a person has lived in Australia for periods totalling more than 10 years including a period of continuous residence of not less than 5 years.

(e)   Widows pensions. No period of residence is required where a claimant and her husband were living permanently in Australia when she was widowed. In other cases 5 years continuous residence is required but this is waived in the case of a woman whose husband has died overseas if she herself had resided continuously here for 10 years at any time.

(f)   Age pensions. A period of 10 years continuous residence in Australia at any time is necessary to qualify for an age pension. This period is reduced where a person has lived in Australia for periods totalling more than 10 years and a period of continuous residence of not less than 5 years.

(2)   Special benefit may be granted to a migrant in respect of whom there is a maintenance guarantee in force if the guarantor is unable, because of a change in his financial circumstances, to honour his undertaking. In any such case the amount of benefit so paid automatically becomes a debt due and payable to the Commonwealth by the guarantor.

(3)   Some cases have come to notice where a guarantor appears able but refuses to honour his guarantee.

(4)   In such instances the action taken depends on the circumstances of the case concerned.

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