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B65/1994 TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE - MOBILE TELEPHONES
DATE OF ISSUE: 19 DECEMBER 1994
TELEPHONE ALLOWANCE - MOBILE TELEPHONES
This instruction is to advise a change of policy in relation to the payment of Telephone Allowance (TA) where the only telephone to which the person subscribes is a mobile telephone.
2.Telephone Allowance was intended to assist clients to have the security and ready access to assistance provided by a telephone in their home. Under previous policy mobile 'phones were excluded because they were more commonly used for business purposes and were rarely the only telephone the person had.
PRESENT LEGISLATION AND POLICY
3.The present legislative provision related to Telephone Allowance specifically excludes the payment of an allowance for mobile telephones due to the operation of sub-sections 118Q(1), (3) and (4) of the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986. Under sub-section 118Q(1) a person is eligible for a telephone allowance if the person is a service pensioner, is eligible for fringe benefits under section 53A and is a telephone subscriber. Under sub-section 118Q(3) a person who is a veteran of World War I and a telephone subscriber is eligible for Telephone Allowance.
4.Sub-section 118Q(4) defines a telephone subscriber as a person (emphasis added):
(a)who is an Australian resident; and
(b)who has a telephone service connected to a home of the person in Australia; and
(c)whose telephone service is connected:
(i)in that person's name; or
(ii)if subparagraph (i) does not apply to the person and the person is a non-illness separated spouse-in the name of the person to whom the person is legally married; or
(iii)if neither (i) or (ii) applies to the person and the person is a member of a couple-in the name of the person's partner.
5.Interpretation of "connected to a home" has not previously extended to including mobile telephones.
6.Given that mobile 'phones have become an increasingly more acceptable and popular form of communication for people outside the business environment and are in fact becoming a popular choice for elderly people due to the security they offer in their portability, it is seen as appropriate that mobile phones be accepted as a legitimate 'telephone subscriber' choice for the purposes of Telephone Allowance. Therefore, effective immediately, for policy purposes mobile 'phones are no longer excluded from the payment of Telephone Allowance where they are the only telephone a pensioner subscribes to.
7.This policy change is in line with DSS policy which supports sub-section 1061Q (5) of the Social Security Act which defines a 'telephone subscriber' as a person who has a telephone service connected in Australia in his or her name or whose partner has a telephone service connected in Australia in the partner's name, ie there is no limitation that the phone must be connected to a home.
LEGISLATIVE AND GOSP AMENDMENTS
8.A bid will be made to amend the VEA at the earliest opportunity to allow for payment of Telephone Allowance for mobile 'phones. This amendment will also ensure consistency with the Social Security Act.
The appropriate amendment to the General Orders Service Pension will be made for the next release of The General.
9.The contact officer for enquiries regarding this change is Ann Donnelly on telephone (06) 289 6439.