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Tuesday, 19 May 1942

Mr CHIFLEY (Macquarie) (Treasurer) . - The Government cannot accept the amendment of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) for reasons which have been plainly stated by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner). I have very little to add to what the honorable gentleman said, except that I make it quite clear that in the means test only the income of the widow herself will be taken into account. In that regard the whole of her income will be considered, whether it be income from a State government, or a State superannuation scheme, or a provident fund, or, in. fact, from any source. Income that she may receive for and on behalf of children will not be considered.

Mr Sheehan - What about income under workmen's compensation legislation?

Mr CHIFLEY - The situation in that regard is not quite on all fours. I am referring to income from State sources, or superannuation or provident funds, or property of any kind. If a widow has an income of, say, 25s. a week from any source other than the Commonwealth widows' pension scheme it will be considered in fixing her rate of pension. It is a matter for any State government concerned to consider whether, after the passage of this legislation, it will continue any widows' pension scheme that it may have in operation. It is certainly not for the Commonwealth Parliament to attempt to deprive widows of benefits which they may now enjoy under such legislation. The Government will not be a party to anything of that kind. The principal widows' pension scheme in operation in Australia at present is administered by the Government of New South Wales, although modest schemes are also in force in Victoria at a cost to that State of about £30,000 a year, and in South Australia at a cost to that State of about £8,000 a year; but this Parliament should not try to interfere in such schemes or in any provident schemes organized by private firms.

Sir Frederick Stewart - In any case the beneficiaries under those provident schemes pay for the benefits they receive.

Mr CHIFLEY - ^Sometimes they do; though I think in no case do they pay fully for the benefits obtained. Almost invariably a contribution, apart from the subscriptions of the beneficiaries is paid by the firm itself. It would create an intolerable situation if the Commonwealth Government interfered in such matters. The insertion of a provision in this bill which would have that effect would bring criticism upon the Parliament. For these reasons the Government cannot accept the amendment.

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