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Wednesday, 17 May 1939


The CHAIRMAN (Mr Prowse (FORREST, WESTERN AUSTRALIA)

Order ! I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the clause.


Dr MALONEY - I am very sorry that the Government has seen fit to impose the condition on the payment of the annuity to Dame Enid Lyons that should sbe re-marry it will cease to be paid. Surely in this, her great moment of sorrow, such a condition might well have been left understood. If I may call it such, a lady's agreement might have been made in this respect. The existence of this condition is another instance of what I have been fighting all my life, injustice to women. In Australia men and women are not equal. Certainly, both alike enjoy the privilege of a vote, but is that equality preserved in the fixation of wages? According to the Pocket Compendium of Australian Statistics, published by the Commonwealth Statistician, Dr. Boland Wilson, declarations of State tribunals have fixed the basic wage in the States in accordance with the following table: -

 

In contrast let us again look at what is done in Russia. In that country men and women are paid the same wage. In its recognition of the equality of the sexes, Russia stands upon the pinnacle of civilization. I regret that in the figures I have just cited, no declarations are included for Victoria and Tasmania. That is a sad commentary on those responsible in those two States, and I am ashamed of my own State in this regard. The weekly basic wage rates for males fixed by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration at the 1st December, 1937,

Unfortunately the wage rates for females are not stated. Perhaps the Statistician was ashamed to set them down. The amendment to clause 3 moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) reads -

That the following words be added to the clause: -

.   . for the maintenance and benefit of herself and for the maintenance, education, benefit and advancement of the children of the late Right Honorable Joseph Aloysius Lyons.

Clause 3, as originally drafted, read -

There shall bc payable out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated accordingly, to tlie widow of the late the Right Honorable Joseph Aloysius Lyons an annuity at the rate of Five hundred pounds per annum.

How I wish that every widow with eleven children could be provided for as generously as that! The honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Corser) made a reference to generals. From my knowledge of generals it is customary for them to stay so far back behind the front line that there is little likelihood of their being killed. It would be interesting to know how many generals have actually died in warfare.


Mr Rankin - In the last war the percentage of generals killed was greater than that of privates.


Dr MALONEY - I am surprised to hear that. Although generals win battles at the head of soldiers, never in history was there, one instance in which generals alone won a battle. There are, however, many instances of the men winning battles when their generals have been betrayed or lost. We all remember in reading Xenophon how,' when all the generals had been .destroyed by the Asiatic army-


The CHAIRMAN - 1 remind the honorable member that the clause does not deal with the ancient Greeks.


Dr MALONEY - Again, it was the common soldiers who forced the gates of the Bastille during the French Revolution when the people struck for freedom of humanity.

With regard to the suggestion of the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson), I should say that a percentage of the net income of each honorable member should be paid into a fund every year for the payment of annuities to the widow and children of the deceased Prime Minister. I remind honorable members that a former Prime Minister of this House actually received over £25,000 from a certain class of people in Australia. Why should not those people come forward now and make a contribution to a fund for the provision of annuities to the dependants of the late Prime Minister? It would perhaps, be an incentive to them to respond generously to such a call if we, ourselves, set the very fine example of establishing a contributory fund for such purposes. I suggest that a moderate contribution of 2 per cent, of the net income of all honorable members would provide, over a number of years, a substantial fund from which to draw. Those people who contributed so generously to a fund for a former Prime Minister might then be tempted to contribute again. Honorable members know very well that if this question of the payment -of an annuity to the dependants of the late Prime Minister were put to a referendum of the people, it would not be carried. Personally I should be very sorry to see the question put to a vote of the people, though after all it is the people who have to find the money. In contrast to this proposal for the treatment of one individual case, let us consider the differential treatment meted out to the thousands of other necessitous people in the community. I hold in my hand a list of the insulting questions which every applicant for an old-age pension must answer. There are no less than five hig pages of them, some pages containing no less than twelve questions. God help the poor old people who have to answer them! I suggest that we should form a committee of the House to consider the sort of questions that should he asked applicants for old-age pensions. I am sure that many honorable members would, not like to be asked these questions if they themselves were applicants. On one occasion I applied for the pension, but Mr. Watt, acting on behalf of Mr. Hughes, who was absent, would not entertain my application. According to the law I was not eligible to apply. When I looked at the questions I had to answer I shook my fist at them. I support the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition.


The CHAIRMAN - Order ! The 'honorable member's time has expired.







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