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Wednesday, 29 June 1938


Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- I regret the attitude which the Government has adopted in respect of this matter. If there is one phase of life's vicissitudes in respect of which it should take a liberal view, it is certainly that of ill health. So many additional claims are made upon the family purse when sickness befalls the worker that that is the very period when more liberal consideration should be given to him. The Government is not acting fairly in this matter, and its attitude will undoubtedly prejudice workers generally against this scheme as a whole. In fact, the scheme provides more for disqualifications than for qualifications. The Government has taken every opportunity to prune down the benefits to be made available under the scheme, whilst, at the same time, it lias not hesitated to impose extra hardships and obligations on contributors. It was thought that the contribution of the insured person would provide benefits for not only himself but also his family in time of sickness, but this is not the case. The insured person is obliged to pay extra in respect of benefits for his wife and family.

The clause to which the Senate has submitted its request runs contrary to the practice adopted by friendly societies, in that it not only precludes the payment of benefits immediately an insured person falls ill, but also obliges the insured person to pay twenty-six contributions before he can become eligible to receive any sickness benefit at all. The sickness benefit under this scheme is definitely less valuable to those insured persons who are not members of friendly societies because contributors who are members of friendly societies will receive payment of benefits on the day they fall ill, and will not be obliged, like other classes of contributors, to wait for such payment until the fifth day. Furthermore, the latter will not be entitled to receive payment of benefit even on the fifth day if they have not contributed for twenty-six weeks. Such an anomaly, I suggest, is outrageous, and renders the sickness benefit under this scheme quite inequitable. The Treasurer may seek to persuade Government supporters and the country at large that this is a fair amendment, but are they likely to believe him? This bill contains so many anomalous provisions that it is impossible to improve it in any really effective way. It is deplorable that a man must be on the sick list for five days before he can obtain any sickness benefit from the fund. I very much regret that the Government will not liberalize t)r provision.







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