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Friday, 24 August 1923

Dr EARLE PAGE (Cowper) .- I must refute the remark of the honorable member that I have not stated the facts. I have explained the exact position. In the appropriation for the purposes of this Bill the Government takes into consideration the number of patients who are expected to be in these institutions, and computes the amount that will be payable in respect of them. If the amendment is accepted,' it must mean an increase in the amount payable. The Government has done all that it possibly can do to correct existing anomalies, and in this particular instance it has deliberately done what, the pensioners asked it to do. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) apparently wants it to do something more than it is doing for the States. We are doing something more than has been done in the past, for we are making an ex gratia payment of 3s. per week to certain persons dependent upon the States, who have never previously received a pension. The Government has agreed to do this because many of the poor people in these institutions keenly felt the discrimination that was shown. One inmate would get 2s. a week from the Government, and another would get nothing. The Government has increased the payment to 3s., and put all the inmates of the various institutions on the same footing. The amount we are providing is such that the authorities in charge of the institutions consider that it will put the inmates in a comfortable and satisfactory position. I can understand honorable members opposite fighting for an increase in the pension to £1 a week, but I cannot understand them fighting for something more than people most concerned have asked the Government to give.

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