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Tuesday, 19 May 1942
Page: 1362

Mr ABBOTT (New England) . - I support the amendment, because J regard it as particularly bad to draw distinctions between Australians of any class. It would be utterly wrong to give preferential treatment to a woman who happened to be a widow in New South Wales, compared with a widow in Western Australia, South Australia, or any other State. For many years, the system of unification for Australia has been a part of the platform of the Government party. If effect were given to it, there would be only one parliament - a national parliament. That a national parliament would fix differential rates of widows' pensions in various parts of the Commonwealth is inconceivable. Every effort should be made to have this pension rate uniform throughout the Commonwealth. If the rate be too low, let it be raised and let the Commonwealth pay it, but do not have a mixed rate, whereby widows in one State would receive more than widows in other States. The Minister for Social Services (Mr. Holloway), and the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner), have said that, to try to dictate to any State what it should do in regard to social legislation would be intolerable. Such qualms did not exist when bills were brought down to implement a uniform income tax throughout the Commonwealth; because I understand that, if a State levies an income tax, it will not benefit by the compensatory payments to be made by the Commonwealth. In effect, the amendment merely asks for what the Government proposes in relation to State income tax. I can see no reason why the States should not be coerced to the utmost strength of the Commonwealth. For goodness' sake, let the people realize that this is the National Parliament, and that it intends to do national work! Do not kow-tow to the States, and whine and cry for fear that they will be upset. It is extraordinary that any government with a unification plank in its platform should shilly-shally, and not undertake widows' pensions solely as a Commonwealth matter, blasting the States out of that field. If the rates are too low, let the Minister raise them; but do not have a bastard rate operating in some portions of Australia compared with other portions.

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