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Friday, 24 August 1923

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Mr Bayley - Before I can accept the amendment, I am required by the Standing Orders to inquire from the Treasurer whether the amendment, if carried, will increase the amount of money to be appropriated, and whether he is willing to accept it.

Dr Earle Page - I assure you, sir, that the amount of appropriation will need to be increased if the amendment be carried; and I cannot agree to it.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.In that circumstance, I Cannot accept the amendment.

Mr Scullin - On a point of order, I submit that the amount of appropriation need not be increased to give effect to this amendment.

Dr Earle Page - The maintenance of benevolent institutions such as those at Lidcombe and Newington is essentially a State function. As an act of grace, the Commonwealth Government has been giving to these institutions 10s. 6d. ai week towards the maintenance of each pensioner inmate. The responsibility of looking after these people really rests with the State Governments. This clause provides for an extra ls. per week to be paid to the inmates, and that is all that has been asked of the Government. We shall still assist the hospital authorities to maintain the inmates. We are also providing in this Bill that persons who were in institutions previous to the enactment of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, and who, therefore, are not entitled to any pension, shall also be paid 39. a week. In the case of hospitals, a request has been made that the payment for maintenance shall be increased to 12s. 6d. The Government has agreed to that.

Mr Scullin - I still submit that there need be no increase in the appropriation. I take it that 17s. 6d.. is appropriated for each pensioner.

Dr Earle Page - There is not a uniform appropriation of 17s. 6d.

Mr Scullin - A certain sum has to be provided for payments to the hospitals. I take it that the full 17s. 6d. must be appropriated. Of that amount 10s. 6d. will go to the hospital, 3s. to the pensioner, and the balance of 4s. will go back to the Treasury.

Mr Groom - It will not revert to the Treasury, because it will not go out.

Mr Charlton - The hospitals could get less.

Dr Earle Page - We are not dealing with the payment to the hospitals.

Mr Scullin - I am not at present arguing on the merits of the amendment. I submit that effect can be given to it without increasing the appropriation, and that therefore it is in order. The Commonwealth Government should not make a profit out of the pensioners. An appropriation of 17s. 6d. must be made for each of them. If the hospitals are granted 12s. 6d., and the pensioners 4s. each, there will still be ls. to the good.

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