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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) .- I wish to reply to a statement made by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. R. Green). He referred to the remark made by the honorable member for Hume (Mr; Parker Moloney), that the £1,300,000 which .the Opposition prevented the Government from giving to the squatters of Australia should be utilized for pension purposes, and said that that amount would only be available for one year. What the honorable member for Hume had in mind was that if that provision for taxation in the Land Tax Assessment Bill had not been defeated, there would have been additional revenue- to Australia that could have been earmarked for pension purposes. I trust that the Committee will deal with this measure in a non-party spirit. The Prime Minister- has placed some of his supporters in a most awkward position, and I regret that he has taken up such an attitude. It is distressing that the National Parliament of Australia should be haggling about whether the worn-out soldiers of industry in this country should be given a pension of 17s. 6d. or £1, a difference of thirty, pence per week. It is a sordid thing for us to be fighting about. Plenty of money was available for the. urgent needs of war, and. I suggest that we should see to it that the comparatively small amount of money involved in the question before us should also be made available. I regret that honorable members opposite have been ? laced in such an unfortunate position, would, much prefer to see some amicable arrangement made by which we could vote together on this subject, and secure £1 per week pension for old people. The Prime Minister has been autocratic, and is preventing the free expression of opinion in this Chamber. The Treasurer stated' that in 1909 the pension of 10s. was the equivalent of 17s. 6d. to-day. The Commonwealth Tear-Booh does notsupport his contention.

Dr Earle Page - The Commonwealth Statistician gave me my figures. They would be later than those in the YearBooh.

Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The Minister's figures related to groceries, food, and house rent, and took no account of clothe ing, which, as every one knows, has increased fully 100 per cent, since 1909. A comparison of the weighted averages for forty-seven items of expenditure shows that as there has been a very heavy increase since 1911, our invalid and old: age pensioners should receive better treatment. Weighted averages for the capital cities of the Commonwealth are as follows: -

In some of the States the increase has been fully 100 per cent. Therefore, there is every justification for an increase- of the pension payments to £1 per week. Apart from that, we should remember that we are living in democratic times, and this subject is receiving attention in- all countries of the world; so it is up to Australia to lead the way.

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