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Wednesday, 29 June 1938


Mr HOLT (Fawkner) .- I was very much impressed by the argument of the Treasurer (Mr. Casey) to the effect that a certain amount of money will be paid to approved societies for disbursement of this particular benefit and that any surplus remaining over at the end of each five-year period will be available to the approved societies for expenditure on additional benefits, including more sickness benefits. AlthoughI was impressed by that argument, I point out that in this particular regard he may be effecting false economy. I base that statement on the experience of various provident societies conducted by business firms. Quite apart from the humanitarian aspect, they regard it as economically sound to pay sickness benefits from the commencement of the sickness. Their experience is that unless sickness benefits are available from the beginning of illness a conscientious employee will continue at work when he should not do so, in order not to lose any of his wages, with the result that his sickness often develops and becomesmore serious. If he knew that sickness benefits would be payable to him from the commencement of his sickness, he would take the precaution tostay home for a day or two, and the trouble would very probably not develop.


Mr Casey - That employee willget the medical benefit.


Mr HOLT - There have been fartoo many instances of men with a slight attack of influenza contracting pneumonia through remaining at work. Other employees may not be so conscientious. A man sufficiently ill to be absent from his work for two or three days may remain home longer in order to claim sickness benefits.


Mr Makin - Malingering will be checked by the doctors.


Mr HOLT - A great deal more control than will be possible under the panel system will be necessary to check malingering, should it be indulged in. It may be found under this scheme, as it has already been found in connexion with other schemes, that, in the long run, it will be false economy to withhold sickness benefits until a certain number of days have elapsed. As the friendly societies have had a great deal of experience in the administration of sickness benefits, and as the sickness benefit under the national insurance scheme is to be administered by approved societies set up by them, I suggest that, during the period which will elapse between the passing of this bill and its coming into operation, the Treasurer should consult with them in order to ascertain whether or not it would be wise. to pay sickness benefits from the commencement of the illness.







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