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Friday, 8 May 1942

Mr RANKIN (Bendigo) .- 1wish to make one or two observations on this measure. Although we are now confronted with very great difficulties, and are involved in tremendous war commitments, the sum of £1,300,000 is an extremely small contribution to make under this measure. Personally, I can see no objection to this provision. I bring particularly before the notice of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway) the claims of old-age pensioners who are suffering from miners' phthisis. In Victoria the State Government pays a special pension of 12s. 6d. to these aged miners, and the Premier of that State has announced that, if the Commonwealth Government would increase the permissible income of pensioners to £1 a week, his Government would raise that special pension in respect of miners' phthisis to that rate. I urge the Minister to give that matter serious consideration. Aged miners who suffer from this disease require special medical attention, and are involved in comparatively heavy expenditure for special medicines. Their disease is closely allied to tuberculosis. Such sufferers require special nourishing foods. Consequently, they are under an expense which the ordinary healthy oldage pensioner is not obliged to meet. I hope that if, at this juncture, the Government cannot take action along the lines I have indicated, it will make arrangements to do so in the very near future.

I also urge the Minister to give serious consideration to the provision of homes for married old-age pensioners. In these days it is almost impossible for aged couples, with small incomes, to secure suitable homes at anything like a reasonable rent. I know that the Minister is sympathetic towards the claims of these people. I sincerely hope that he will soon see his way clear ' to grant this request. [Quorum formed.']

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