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Thursday, 20 November 1941

Mr MARWICK (Swan) .- This bill gives me an opportunity once again to protest against the manner in which the invalid and old-age pensions are paid. I strongly object to pensions being the plaything of politics. It is a damnable practice that aged people who have rendered magnificent service to this country should have to rely on the whim of politicians for their pensions, and I appeal again for the establishment of some independent tribunal or court which would assess the rate of pension in much the same way as the basic wage is assessed by the Arbitration Court in accordance with the rise and fall of the cost of living. It is most objectionable that at an election or at the thought of an election, politicians, no matter what their political complexions, should seek to use the unfortunate pensioners as stepping stones to Parliament. Now that there has been a change of government, I again press the claims of the pensioners to be removed completely from the political field. I believe that in some directions at least I am winning sympathy from honorable members on behalf of the pensioners.

I strongly favour a. form of national insurance whereby pensions will be the right of the aged and infirm, whatever be their financial condition, and not a dole confined to a certain section of the people as at present. If a scheme of national insurance be not soon forthcoming, at least the whole of the pensions of this country should be entirely removed from the authority of Parliament and put in the hands of an independent tribunal which will assess the rate of pensions without fear of political consequences.

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