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Friday, 21 November 1941

Mr FRANCIS (Moreton) .- During the second-reading debate on the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill yesterday, the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) referred to the possibility of " rackets " being carried out by organizations formed in order to collect from pensioners small fortnightly sums which amounted to a substantial fund which in Victoria was estimated by him to amount to £60,000. The honorable gentleman indicated that, in the main, these organizations were associated, directly or indirectly, with funeral directors to ensure the payment of funeral expenses for old-age pensioners.

Mr Calwell - The honorable gentleman was absolutely right.

Mr Hutchinson - I did not mention funeral directors. That remark was made in an interjection.

Mr Calwell - I accept the responsibility for that interjection.

Mr FRANCIS - The honorable member for Melbourne apparently knows all about " rackets ". In reply to his accusation, I wish to place on record the contents of an urgent telegram which I have just received from a firm of funeral directors in Brisbane. The telegram reads -

Reference reported pensions debate November twentieth respectfully desire bring before your notice that exploitation of Queensland pensioners and general public by funeral directors was prevented by State friendly societies acts enacted November, 1940. (Signed) Alex. Gow Pty. Ltd.

That communication replies effectively on behalf of Queensland funeral directors to the general and unqualified remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne.

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