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Thursday, 20 November 1941

Mr JOLLY (Lilley) . - I direct attention to- an anomaly in the application of the means test. If an applicant for a pension owns a property which returns- a net income of £30 a year, not only is that amount debited against him, but, in addition, the value of tlie property is taken into account. If the property be valued at £350, there is a debit of 10 per cent, on £300, which amounts to -£30, and the applicant is regarded as having an income of £60, which makes him ineligible for a pension. I should like the Minister to give consideration to this anomaly. The act, by section 24, presetiocs that, in applying the means test, there shall bc a deduction -of £1 for every complete £10 by which the net capital value of the accumulated property exceeds £50. The applicant is also debited with the net income derived from that property. This, to me, suggests double banking. I Lave explained the matter to pensions officials, but it has taken them some time to understand the exact position. It is most unfair to take into account the capital value of property in addition to debiting an applicant for- a pension with the revenue derived from it. in order to determine, whether or not his means debar him from receiving a pension. J. .trust that the Minister will consider that aspect of the matter. The proposed amendment to clause 8 deals with encumbered property, but I - support the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) regarding property which is unencumbered. A man may own property of an unimproved value of £1,000, but if he cannot sell it and cannot, get any revenue from it, it is a- liability rather than an a-set, especially when he has to pay rates on it. However, I understand that the department may exercise discretion in cases of that kind, and take over the property if the pensioner so- desires.

I regard as very sound the proposal to encourage- vocational training of invalid persons. This is not a matter merely . of saving money for the Government; what is more important, it is a plan for giving invalids an interest in life. I desire to pay a tribute to departmental officials for the humane way in which they have tried to encourage invalids to take up some sort of work. I have been impressed with the great interest taken by Deputy Commissioners in cases of .this kind. One honorable member this afternoon, stressed the need -for the humane administration of pensions legislation. I.n my .opinion, the officials who administer the3e provisions are - discharging their duties in a most humane manner. . -

Suggestions : have: -been made in the course of this debate that -our social services should -be -extended, but I believethat, before any action is taken in that direction, a survey should- be made pf the social sen-ices provided .by -the various States, as well- as those of the Commonwealth, in- order to avoid duplication and overlapping. For instance^ some States provide pensions for widows and -orphans, whilst others do not.' It is desirable that there should be uniformity of social services, particularly in regard to pensions, and the only way in which that can be achieved is by the nationalization of all social services.

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