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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 2055

Senator TOWNLEY (TASMANIA) - I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services by saying that no doubt the Minister is aware of a chart showing income from government pensions, benefits and child endowment, which was printed by the University of Melbourne Institute of Applied Economics and Social Research and which compares income from pensions with the income required to reach the poverty line. The chart shows, amongst other things, that a single male pensioner requires an additional $5 a week to reach the poverty line, and that an invalid pensioner with a wife and 2 children needs and additional $15 a week to reach the poverty line. Will the Minister say whether any early action is likely to be taken by the Government to help ease the burden of these people?

Senator GREENWOOD (VICTORIA) (Attorney-General) - I am aware of the general figures to which the honourable senator has referred. I am aware also that the basis upon which those figures were assessed was an investigation carried out in, I think, 1966. The result of those inquiries in 1966 has been given extensive publicity. The figures to which the honourable senator has referred are the up-dated figures as the authors regard them, but of course they are based on average weekly earnings over the period since the original survey was made. It may be a question of some concern whether the use of average weekly earnings is a fair way to get a precise figure which is consistent with the results of the initial inquiry. Having said that, one cannot ignore the implications of what the honourable senator said, and I do not ignore them. I am not in a position to express on behalf of the Minister for Social Services what the Government's future policy will be, but I will convey the honourable senator's question to him for answer.

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