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Thursday, 25 February 1932

Mr ROSEVEAR (Dalley) .- I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister the hardship suffered by an oldage pensioner. I do not know whether the case referred to in the communication that I have received from the department is covered directly by the act, or whether it is affected by the regulations under the act, nor can I say which particular government is responsible for the regulations of which I shall complain. When the old-age pensioner whose case I am presenting was in better circumstances, he bought a block of land from a land investment company. He, subsequently, became unemployed, and was eventually entitled to the pension; but before he claimed it, he transferred the property, which was only partly paid for, to a friend. He realized that he was unable to keep up the payments due, and he was under an obligation to his friend, who had rendered him many good services in the past. He undertook to give his friend the property, in recognition of past services, and the friend was to pay off the balance owing on the land. The department holds that the land is still the property of the pensioner. The communication received from the department contains these words - "I have to advise that transfers of property without adequate consideration cannot be recognized by the department".

I went into this matter with the Deputy Commissioner of Pensions, and discussed the peculiar feature of the regulations. If this man had forfeited his land, being unable to keep up the payments, and the property had reverted to the land sharks, be could still have claimed the full old-age pension; but because he transferred it to a friend for the reason that I have stated, he is still regarded as the owner of the property. The departmental reply goes on to say - " It is regretted, therefore, that the value of Mr. Knopp's equity in the land in question at the time of its transfer must be maintained against him;" I do not think that that is the intention of the act, and I hope that the matter will receive consideration by the Government. The person to whom the land has been transferred is a most reputable citizen; he is analderman and a Justice of the Peace. He has signed a statutory declaration, which shows that the transaction was perfectly fair and above board. If the regulations have been properly interpreted, the Government, I think, should take a more charitable view of such cases, and should not allow the regulations to operate against a claimant for the oldage pension, as in this instance.

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