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Thursday, 29 July 1920


Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) .- I have little to addto my previous remarks on this subject. When speaking on the8th July I was referring to the fact that although the cost of living had increased to an extent that was very hard to estimate, the increase in the old-age pensions had been very small, whilst the invalid pensions had not been advanced at all. I argued that the old-age pension, to comply with what was in the mind of the Parliament which passed the original scheme, should be increased to-day to almost 30s. The Invalid Pensions Act provides that before a member of a family can claim benefits under the Act, he must have a weekly income of less than £1 for each adult, and 10s. for each child. I advocated that those amounts should be increased by at least 50 per cent. The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Prowse), in the course of his argument, referred to a drunkard whom he had warned that he would be left without any provision for his old age. To that the man had replied, " There is the old-age pension." The impression that was left by the honorable member's remarks was that, in his opinion, most of the indigent poor were brought to straitened circumstances by drink.


Mr Prowse - Not at all.


Mr LAZZARINI - The impression conveyed to my mind, at all events, was that the honorable member thinks that all those who receive old-age pensions have been drunkards, or at least, improvident, in their earlier life.


Mr Prowse - That impression is quite wrong.


Mr LAZZARINI - The honorable member's words convey, at least, the suggestion that the old-age pension system prompts persons to live in a haphazard fashion, secure in the knowledge that towards the end of their days they will be able to obtain pensions.


Mr Prowse - The proposal of the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) would allow able-bodied men of twenty to thirty years of age to sponge on the public.


Mr LAZZARINI - As I understand it, it would not do so. I do not wish to repeat argumentsthat have been used in the debate, but it surprises me that any one should hold the view that it is drunkenness and improvidence that compel people to accept old-age pensions. It is the social system under which we live that forces old people to take pensions to keep body and soul together. Those who are giving their best in the various industries and employments of the country are not receiving sufficient remuneration to enable them to lay by for their old age, and the Legislature, realizing this, provided old-age pensions. We should now go further, and see that the pensions are at least made adequate. I would supplement the old-age and invalid pensions system with the pensions system proposed by this motion. I should be sorry if it were thought that I like to see those who are earning money careless in the spending of it, and living in such a way tha* they are bound to require support in their old age. It is, however, an undoubted fact that persons who squander their money contribute more to the revenue than those who save it, because of the heavy duties on the commodities which they consume so largely; and thus the old-age pension gives back to them only some part of what they have contributed to the revenue in Customs taxation. The Treasurer has told us that the applications for pensions increase whenever the rates of pensions increase. But it should be patent to a schoolboy that it is the everincreasing cost of living that makes it more and more difficult for sons and daughters to maintain their parents, and thus causes an increasing number of old persons to apply for pensions. Many people do' not like their parents to accept the old-age pension, regarding this as pauperization. That is not my view of it. Nowadays, however, the cost of living is so high, and is mounting so much higher almost every week, that they find it impossible to rear their families, and also to maintain their parents, and consequently the latter are compelled to apply for old-age pensions.


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - The cost of living is constantly increasing, but there is not a similar constant increase in the number of old-age pensioners; it is only when the rates of pensions are increased that there is a jump in the applications for pensions.


Mr LAZZARINI - I contend that it is economic pressure that is increasing the pension applications. How does the Treasurer knowthat the applications for pensions are not increasing in a manner corresponding with the increase in the cost of living? He has no statistics showing the weekly applications for pensions. The miserable rate of the allowance that was originally provided for possibly deterred many persons from applying for pensions, because they looked on these as hardly worth applying for. But as the rate has increased, the applications have increased. I do not think that any member of the House would declare himself opposed to the old-age pension system, and, that being so, we should see that the rate of pensions is sufficient for the keeping together of body and soul.


Sir JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Treasurer) - But what the honorable member for Melbourne (Dr. Maloney) proposes is the setting up of a huge benefit society under the aegis of the Federal Government.


Mr LAZZARINI - My view isthat, while the old-age and invalid pensions remain so small and so inadequate, some such system as this proposed is needed to supplement them. Therefore, I support the motion, and trust that it may be carried.







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