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Tuesday, 1 November 1983
Page: 2164

Question No. 401

Mr Wells asked the Minister, representing the Minister for Social Security, upon notice, on 25 August 1983:

(1) What concessions are currently available to pensioners who need a telephone as part of their personal safety and as a security in the case of unexpected attacks of illness.

(2) Is he able to state how many pensioners are in this situation.

(3) Will the scope of the concessions be increased in the future.

Dr Blewett —The Minister for Social Security has provided the following answer to the honourable member's question:

(1) Holders of Pensioner Health Benefit cards are generally eligible for a concession which allows a reduction of over one-third in telephone rental. The concession is available for one telephone only. Provision for the concession is made in Telecom's Tariff Determination but the cost is borne by the Department of Social Security.

In addition the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service-CRS-will meet the cost of installation of an exchange line and any telephone aid where they are considered to be an important part of a rehabilitation program for a client accepted by the Service. The CRS will pay these costs as a once only payment and will not meet any rental charges.

(2) Statistics on the number of pensioners who may need a telephone as part of their personal safety and as a security in case of unexpected attacks of illness are not available, however at 30 June 1983 there were 705,742 pensioners receiving telephone rental concessions from the Department of Social Security.

(3) Any consideration of increasing the scope of concessions would need to be in the context of the Government's overall Social Security program.