By ERWIN CHLANDA
A debate is raging over whether your family home should be regarded as an asset when the state decides if you get the pension or not.
Writing in the Australian Financial Review, Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes (pictured) claimed this week it is no longer feasible or fair to ask taxpayers to pay pensions while the value of the recipient’s home is not taken into account.
At the same time, the possession of more than half a million square kilometres is not taken into account in the allocation of welfare payments to thousands of people in Central Australia.
According to a spokesman for the Federal Department of Social Services, this is how it works:-
Under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, Aboriginal Land Trusts hold title to inalienable freehold land in the Northern Territory for the benefit of Aboriginal people entitled by Aboriginal tradition to the use or occupation of land.
As Aboriginal land is held communally, not individually, it is not assessable under the assets test.
Rent, royalties and other land related payments to individuals, such as native title, are assessed as income under the income test.
Leases on Aboriginal land can be made over individual parcels of land or over townships to support economic development and service delivery.
Leasing on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory is increasingly being used by governments and service providers that occupy Aboriginal land.
However, more needs to be done to support leasing for individuals and private enterprises in these communities.
The Australian Government is working to increase economic development opportunities on Aboriginal land by re-energising township leasing, regularising land administration and reducing red tape.
The assets test assesses assets that a person owns, apart from exempt assets such as a person’s principal home.
Similarly, the income test assesses the gross ordinary income of people and measures income from all sources.
By ERWIN CHLANDA