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Thursday, 24 May 1973
Page: 2571

Mr DRUMMOND (FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is directed to the Minister for Education. I believe that many representations have been made to him, particularly from Western Australia, regarding the Commonwealth's living away from home allowance for isolated children. Did the Minister anticipate when introducing this benefit that some States would discontinue their assistance in this field? Secondly, is he aware of the reality of the means test in truly isolated areas such as the north of Western Australia?

Mr BEAZLEY (FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Education) - I have not had many representations on this issue at all. I have had representations from a gentleman named Withers in the State Parliament in Western Australia, and the nature of the campaign that he is waging on this issue, I believe, has so misrepresented the means test that it is discouraging people from applying for allowances. The rate of applications in Western Australia is astonishingly low. Some thousands of application forms have been sent out but probably only about one-third of them have come back. Over 700 have received the minimum isolated children's grant of $350 plus the living allowances. I agree that there is a problem in this area and I am having examined the question of zonal allowances to see whether the means test, which we have simply adopted from our predecessors, is realistic or not. That is something that is subject to review. One other aspect of the honourable gentleman's question has slipped my mind.

Mr Drummond - It related to the reality of the means test in the north in view of the cost of living.

Mr BEAZLEY - That is the. matter which I said was subject to review. The other aspect related to the question of the States. When we launched this scheme an appeal was made to the State governments to continue their forms of assistance monetarily, their travel warrants, rail warrants and so on that assist isolated children. Not all of the States have retained them. This is a matter we will have to consider. But I urge people to apply. The rate of applications is very slow. All isolated children are entitled to a minimum of $350 and it is vitally important that all their applications come in so we can get a clear picture of where we going in what is after all a new scheme as far as the Commonwealth is concerned.

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