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Friday, 4 March 1932

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) . - I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister for Repatriation a matter affecting one of my constituents, and illustrating the effects of the wonderful economy scheme known as the Premiers plan. I refer to the case of a mother who sent two sons to the last war. One boy, who reached the rank of sergeant, was killed, and the other returned a cripple. She had only two sons who were eligible for war service, and, therefore, this family at least discharged its obligations to the country. The mother is now 75 years of, age, and the father is two years older. The mother was in receipt of a pension of 27s.10d. per fortnight on account of the death of one son, and the crippling of the other; yet, last week, she received a notice in the following curt terms: -

Under the Financial Emergency Regulations 1931, any pension payable to a dependant shall be subject to review, and the commission may reduce or cancel a pension, according to the circumstances of the case.

In this instance the department has reduced the pension of this aged mother to1s. per week. This is one of the results of the marvellous Premiers plan about which we have heard so much. Yet there is talk of honouring obligations and of honesty in government ! Are we honouring our obligations to a mother aged 75 years, who lost her son at the war and has another on her hands as a cripple, when her war pension is reduced to ls. per week? It makes one disposed as a member of this Parliament to hang his head in shame, knowing that there is a government or a policy or a plan in Australia under which such an injustice can be committed.

Mr Maxwell - What is the reason given by the department for this action ?

Mr BEASLEY - I have already read the communication received from the department, and that is the only reason advanced.

Mr Maxwell - But that intimation concludes with the words, "According to the circumstances of the case ".

Mr BEASLEY - The circumstances are that this couple also receive the oldage pension; but is the nation meeting its obligations when an aged mother has her war pension reduced to ls. per week, although she has lost one son and has another a cripple? The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Maxwell) has shown a greater tendency than many other members to give sympathetic attention to such cases.

Mr Hutchin - Does not the crippled son also receive a pension?

Mr BEASLEY - I am not in a position to answer that question, but I do not wish to evade it. If the crippled son had a pension it would not be nearly sufficient to meet his present needs, lt is an insult to offer this mother ls. a week; if that amount were cut out altogether the parents would know better where they stood. If the regulations make such action possible under the wonderful Premiers plan, I ask the Minister to make the alterations necessary to see that justice is done, and that the obligations of the nation to these parents arc honoured to the full.

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