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Thursday, 20 November 1941


Mr CONELAN (Griffith) .- 1 expected the honorable member for Wakefield to agree with the honorable member for Barker.; honorable members on this side of the House would be amazed if such were not the case when sympathetic consideration was being shown to the workers or the poor of this country. 1 am pleased that there is a sympathetic Minister in charge of health and social services. In the previous Government the gentleman in charge of this department merely gave lip-service.

A most important feature of the bill is that which proposes an alteration of the act which I asked the previous Minister to make. The honorable member for Parramatta (Sir Frederick Stewart) told this House to-day that he has every consideration for the pensioners of this country; yet when he was Minister for Health and Social Services he refused to consider the claims of the blind wives of blind men, even though their number is not great. I am pleased that their case is now being met.

There is another matter which I raised in this House several months ago, and I appeal to the Minister to see that provision in respect of it is made in the bill that is to be brought down next March to increase the pension to 25s. a week. When the son of an old-age pensioner who goes overseas to fight on our behalf makes an allotment to one of his parents who is a pensioner, the pension is not reduced ; but if he should be killed, any small, pension granted by the Repatriation Department to the bereaved parent is taken into account by the Pensions Department in assessing the income of the pensioner. I trust that the Minister will provide in the next measure introduced that those whose sons make the supreme .sacrifice shall not bo penalized, but shall continue to receive the full rate of pension, irrespective of any small payment made to them by the Repatriation Department.


Mr Fadden - Does the honorable member say that there is to be a new bill in March, increasing the pension to £1 5s. a week?


Mr CONELAN - That is so. I trust that the Leader of the Opposition, and the honorable member for Parramatta, will approve of that increase to the. pensioners, who, by their pioneering efforts, have made it possible for them and me to bc here to-day.


Mr Fadden - Surely we are not to be asked' to agree to that !


Mr CONELAN - I would not expect the Leader of the Opposition or the honorable member for Parramatta to agree to it.


Sir Frederick Stewart - We shall be " running the show " by March.


Mr CONELAN - I feel confident that this Parliament will approve of the payment of £1 5s. a week to invalid and old-age pensioners.


Mr Anthony - Why not pay it now?


Mr CONELAN - The Treasurer had only three weeks in which to prepare the budget, and he had to make provision for this additional £1,500,000. Had I been Treasurer, or Minister for Health and Social Services, I would have given the £1 5s. a week. Appreciating the difficulties of the Government, I am satisfied with the definite promise that 25s. will be paid in March.

A further feature of the hill is the provision that S5 per cent, incapacity shall entitle a person to a pension. I have dealt; with many cases of persons who took epileptic fits. When the Pensions Office in Queensland was approached, its decision WaS. that these persons were not totally and permanently incapacitated despite the fact that they could produce numerous; -medical certificates to prove that they; were. I trust that the new provision will provide for these people, and that' they will not bc denied privileges which a>re extended to others. I congratulate the Minister upon his generous and sympathetic outlook, and shall welcome next March the proposal to increase the pension to £1 5s. a week.







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