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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 3169

Mr Hayden asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:

(1)   What is the procedure a worker must follow on becoming unemployed in order to obtain unemployment benefit.

(2)   Has there been a change in departmental procedure in recent months.

(3)   If so,

(a)   what was the previous procedure.

(b)   when, and on whose authority, did the change occur,

(c)   was the increase in numbers seeking unem ployment benefit the basis for the change in departmental policy; if not, what was the rationale for the change,

(d)   has provision been made by the Department to inform professional social workers, and the public in general, of the change, and

(e)   has the change in policy

(i)   resulted in an increase in the waiting time a worker experiences before receiving unemployment benefit,

(ii)   added to the confusion which migrants face in obtaining unemployment benefit and,

(iii)   reflected a discriminatory attitude of the Department towards the unemployed worker.

Mr Wentworth - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   As a prerequisite to claiming unemployment benefit, an unemployed worker must first register for work with the Commonwealth Employment Service. He will be advised about benefit and informed that, if he is still unemployed in seven days, he should return to the Employment Office to lodge a claim. If there is no waiting period to be observed, a claim will be taken when the person first registers.

The claim when submitted to my Department, will be deemed to have been lodged on the day of initial registration. A first Income Statement is issued when the claim is lodged, returnable seven days after the lodgment of the claim.

(2)   Yes.

(3)   (a) The previous procedure allowed a claim for benefit to be lodged at the time of the initial registration for work and a first income statement, to be returned fourteen days later, was issued. Otherwise the procedure was the same.

(b)   The new procedure became effective from 17 January 1972, on the authority of the Director-General of Social Services.

(c)   The change was designed to effect economies in administration without any adverse effect whatsoever on service to the applicant and was made following a Public Service Board review of procedures previously followed.

(d)   In view of the fact that the rights and entitlements of claimants were not affected in any way, it was not considered necessary to inform professional social workers or the general public.

(e)   (i) No. In fact, the elimination of unnecessary work will lead to better payment processing.

(ii)   There is no evidence known to my Department that migrants are confused regarding applications for unemployment benefit.

(iii)   No. The new procedure could, in fact, have further advantages for the applicant in that he may seek work with a more hopeful outlook if not immediately presented with unemployment benefit documents that imply at least two weeks' unemployment.

International Labour Organisation Conventions: Papua New Guinea (Question No. 5723)

Mr Whitlam asked the Minister for

Labour and National Service, upon notice:

(1)   Which members of the International Labour Organisation applied (a) more and (b) fewer of its conventions to the non-metropolitan territories for whose international relations they are responsible than Australia has applied to Papua New Guinea (Hansard, 19th April 1972, page 1773 and question No. 5645 (3)).

(2)   How many conventions has each of these members applied to one or more of those territories.

Mr Lynch - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) The following table indicates (as at 31st December 1971) the numbers of Conventions which have been declared applicable without modification to one or more non-metropolitan territories by theILO member States responsible for the international relations of non-metropolitan territories:


Pensioners: Supplementary Assistance (Question No. 5780)

Mr Hayden asked the Minister for Social

Services, upon notice:

What would be the cost involved if supplementary assistance was extended to cover pensioners who own their own homes and who are required to pay rates.

Mr Wentworth - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

It is impossible to answer questions of this character with any certainty. My officers estimate that the cost would be of the order of $15m per year.

Commonwealth Centre at Bendigo (Question No. 5782)

Mr Kennedy asked the Minister for the

Interior, upon notice:

Will he take steps to ensure that funds are voted in the 1972-73 Budget to allow prompt commencement of the Commonwealth Centre planned for Bendigo.

Mr Hunt - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

As stated in answer to an earlier question, the Department of the Interior is negotiating the purchase of a site for Commonwealth offices in

Bendigo. However, due to revised space requirements for the Commonwealth in Bendigo further design work on the proposed building will be necessary and it is not likely that the project will proceed in 1972-73. When design is completed, the question of funds for this project will need to be considered in the context of overall Commonwealth office requirements and the availability of funds at the time.

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