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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I had hoped that the Treasurer would see his way clear to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman). I am not satisfied with his explanation of why he cannot do so. At present the Government is making a profit out of these inmates, and even with the increased payments to the hospitals and the pensioners, it will still be 2s. better off in respect of each pensioner than would be the case if the pensioner were not resident in an institution. I cannot see any reason why the Government should retain that 2s. a week. There was always a grievance while the amount was 2s. 6d. Every hospital in my electorate has been writing to me for years about this matter. Personally, I think the difference should be paid to the patients. At present, when a patient leaves a hospital after having been an inmate for three months, he receives 28s. back pay, the balance being retained by the Commonwealth. The Treasurer says that he cannot accept the ' amendment because it will increase the amount of the appropriation. I cannot follow hia line of reasoning. I think the Commonwealth is benefiting to the extent of ls. 6d.

Mr Groom - If the honorable member will look at section 45 of the Act he will see that when a pensioner becomes an inmate of a public institution his pension is suspended, but there is now a proviso entitling him to 3s. a week.

Dr Earle Page - The payment to hospitals is purely an administrative act of grace.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I contend that if the patient is entitled to the pension the Government should not retain any portion of it.

Dr Earle Page - We are doing just what the patients have asked us to do. I cannot understand men who say that they represent the patients in trying to get an increase which the patients have not asked for.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Treasurer knows that he gave no opportunity to the patients to express their opinions.

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