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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - The Prime Minister practically gave an assurance that this Bill would be treated in a non-party way. The Treasurer (Dr. Earle Page), apparently, objected to that, and the Prime Minister has now made it a party question, and has said that if the vote is against him he will take it as a vote of censure. I regret that very much. A number of honorable members on the other side of the Committee who are favorable to a pension of £1 per week are to be compelled to vote with the Government, because this has been made a party question.

Mr Maxwell - You would do the same thing.

Mr E RILEY (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is so, but I complain that it has been made a party question. It is most regrettable that in the closing hours of the session the Government should try to prevent us from doing the fair thing by the old people. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Mann) takes what he calls a logical point of view. He says that we are not doing the old people any injustice, because they are getting as much value now as they got when the pension was 10s. a week, according to the cost of living figures. We do not ask public servants to retire on a pension of 17s. 6d. a week, nor is any retiring allowance of which I know as low as that. Why should we ask, the old people to accept such an inadequate pension? If the remarks of the honorable member for Perth indicate his idea of what the standard of living should be, then God help the country if he ever obtained control of it. I trust that the Committee will agree to increase the pension to 20s.

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