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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr FENTON (Maribyrnong) . -The Committee finds itself in a. most peculiar position. In the last few weeks the Government has introduced a number of measures to give financial relief to wealthy sections of the community, and yet it tells us now that it cannot increase the pension to the aged and infirm. The only word that can be applied to these circumstances is " disgraceful." Why has the Prime Minister bound his supporters to vote in a certain way? Is it because he is anxious, on the eve of his departure for Great Britain, to obtain some kind of a vote of confidence? The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) and the honorable member for Henty (Mr. F. Francis) tell us that they are pledged to support a pension of 20s., but because the Government intends to make this vote a vital matter they arc willing to vote against the amendment.

Mr Maxwell - I am not pledged to vote in favour of making the pension £1.

Mr FENTON - I consider that it is cowardly for the Prime Minister to compel his supporters to vote against the amendment. His supporters are also cowardly in allowing the Prime Minister to dragoon them. Why should they weakly and supinely submit, to such treatment? It is high time that the pensioners were afforded some relief from, their sufferings. They have been starved during the last few years, because of the high cost of living. It is despicable of the Government to withhold payment of the increased pension until lilli September. It should be paid as from the beginning of the financial year. I ask the Government to look at this matter from a humane point of view; and I ask those supporters of the Government who are favorable to increasing the pension to £1 to show a little Australian pluck and to cut adrift from politics for a few moments and, without fear of the resultof their vote, give the pensioners a little British fair play.

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