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Thursday, 20 November 1941

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) . - I direct the attention of the Minister for Health and Social Services (Mr. Holloway) to paragraph 12 of the interim report of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Social Security. This deals with the vocational training of invalids and suggests that they should go before a board which should consist of a senior Commonwealth medical referee, a medical practitioner who has specialized in the particular disability from which the claimant is suffering, a vocational adviser, and a representative of the Department of Social Services. The board would have the responsibility of determining whether the disabilities were of a permanent nature or whether they only partially incapacitated the claimant for work. The report stated that in Queensland considerable success had been achieved by voluntary endeavour, in association with the invalid pensions administration, and that it had been conservatively estimated that 3 per cent, of invalid pensioners could be trained for vocations, whilst the proportion, if applied to all claimants for invalid pensions, might be substantially higher. The recommendation premises that there would be voluntary co-operation on the part of the claimant. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. Sheehan) thought thatpensioners possibly might he conscripted to a course of vocational training, andwas most anxious that the Minister should give sin assurance on that point. I still consider that a provision should be inserted- in thisbill in the Senate to' incorporate ' the germane portions of the report of the committee, so that people entitled to the pension will not feel that it is to be offered to them on the condition that they learn a trade. As the act stands, it does not contain the safeguards that it ought to include. Although thepresent Administration may be sympathetic, I desire to guard pensioners against the possibility of a literal interpretation of the act by an unsympathetic Minister. The clause as drafted does" not offer the protection desired.

Mr Holloway - I admit that. There is justification for the honorable member's apprehension, but I shall give the matter further consideration before March next.

Mr CALWELL - The necessary amendment could be inserted when the bill reaches the Senate. I am sure of the intentions of the present Government, but honorable members opposite speak with divers tongues, and I am not prepared to trust to them the interests of the pensioners in the future.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 7 verbally amended, and, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 -

Section twenty-five of the principal act is amendedby adding at the end of sub-section (1) the following paragraph: - " (c) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, where any claimant or pensioner, or the husband or wife of a claimant or pensioner, possesses property which is subject to any incumbrance and which, in the opinion of the Commissioner, cannot be realized except at a considerable loss, the Commissioner may, in assessing the net capital value of his accumulated property, disregard the value of the interest of that person in the property.".

Amendment (by Mr. Holloway) agreed to -

That the word " paragraph " be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words: - " proviso and paragraph:-

Provided that, if for any special reason the Commissioner is of opinion that this paragraph should not apply in any particular case, he may. direct shall not apply:'".

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 9, 10 and 11 agreed to.

Clause 12-

Notwithstanding anything contained in the principal act, as amended by this Act -

(b)   the maximum rate of pension payable to a pensioner in pursuance of subsection (2.) of section thirty -one, the proviso to section forty-five or section forty-seven of the Principal Act, as amended by this Act, from and including the eleventh day of December, One thousand nine hundred and fortyone until the day immediately prior to the due date of the first fortnightly instalment in the quarter ending on the thirtieth day of June, One thousand nine hundred and forty-two, shall be Seven shillings and ninepence.

Amendment (by Mr. Holloway) agreed to -

That in paragraph (b) after the word " pension ", the words " per week " be inserted.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 13 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.

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