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Friday, 24 August 1923

Dr EARLE PAGE (Cowper) (Treasurer) . - The explanation of the position the honorable member has discovered is this: The original limitation with respect to property was £310. That has been maintained all these years, for the reason that the pension diminishing under the Act, at the rate of £1 for every £10 of property possessed, left but a very small pension indeed for any person possessing property approximating the value of £310. If £50- the statutory exemption - is deducted from £310, there is £260 left. If there is a deduction of £1 for every £10 of this amount, it means that £26 has to be deducted from £39 - the annual value of the old-age pension at the present rate. This would leave an annual pension of £13, and a person possessing property to the value of £309 would be able to draw a pension of 5s. per week. The Government have tried to preserve that principle in this Bill. If you deduct £50 from £400, you have £350. This would involve a deduction from the pension on the existing scale of £35 from the annual pension, and under this proposal the pensioner would receive £10 10s. a year, or a pension of a little under 5s. per week. If the maximum value of property were raised to £500, and deductions were made in accordance with the same scale, it would be hardly worth a person's while to apply for the pension that would be payable should the value of his property approximate £500. I am advised that, if the amount were raised as proposed, a tremendous amount of investigation would be required, and the results to pensioners would not be commensurate with the trouble involved. That is the reason why the maximum value of property has been fixed at £400. Another reason is that the amount available for distribution had to be parcelled out to the greatest possible advantage in_ correcting the anomalies that arise under the existing Act. It is estimated that the maximum amount of benefit to pensioners will be derived by fixing the value of property at a maximum of £400.

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