Title APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 1984-85
In Committee
Database Senate Hansard
Date 20-05-1985
Source Senate
Parl No. 34
Electorate TAS
Interjector The CHAIRMAN
Page 2204
Party ALP
Speaker Senator GRIMES
Context Bill
System Id chamber/hansards/1985-05-20/0105

APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 3) 1984-85 - In Committee

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(10.21) —I do not believe that within a month of our becoming elected invalid pension approvals quadrupled. What happened was that soon after we were elected we looked at the mechanism of approving invalid pensions. We found that there was a great disparity between the States as to the number of people who had their invalid pensions approved early in the piece. As we went through the list of invalid pension applicants we found that if we took the number of people who applied and the number of people who eventually received invalid pensions, in every State the percentage was about the same. I forget what it was; let us say that it was 80 per cent. The big difference was that for States such as New South Wales and Queensland to get to that 80 per cent the applicants had to go through all the appeal procedures and everything else. So the end result was the same. The decision-making process in those States was such that people had to go through endless appeal procedures before they received pensions.

As a result, we decentralised the decision-making process. We stopped the business that went on in New South Wales whereby doctors from the Department of Health were sitting in offices making decisions to knock people's pensions back without ever seeing them. I found out at a meeting with medical practitioners in New South Wales that a couple of them considered that their role was more as protectors of the public purse than as providing income support for people with invalidity. When we changed the system we found that all States came together pretty well, that the same percentage of people who applied for invalid pensions eventually received them. It is just that the protracted procedure that went on in New South Wales and Queensland at the time was stopped. That assisted not only those applying for invalid pensions but also the public purse in regard to the costs of all the endless procedures through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Social Security Appeals Tribunal and all the other mechanisms.

The CHAIRMAN —Before I call Senator Messner I draw the Committee's attention to the fact that we have already approved the estimates for the Department of Social Security. I ask Senator Messner whether he intends to refer to the estimates for the Department of Social Security.