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Tuesday, 19 May 1942
Page: 1377

Sir FREDERICK STEWART (Parramatta) . - I cannot allow this clause to pass without making a further appeal to the Minister to remove an injustice. This clause provides that the pension of a widow shall cease when she enters a mental hospital, and this applies, not only to the pension of 25s. payable to the pensioner herself, but also to whatever allowance she may receive in respect of her children. A widow who enters a general hospital will continue drawing her pension, and the same applies to one who enters an institution such as an eventide home. Therefore, I cannot understand why this discrimination should be practised against the widow unfortunate enough to enter a mental hospital. I know that it is argued that the maintenance of mental hospitals is a matter for the States, but until recently the same was said of widows' pensions. It is also claimed that people, as a rule, stay in general hospitals for only a short while, whereas they usually stay in a mental hospital for a long time. However, they also stay in eventide homes for a long time, generally for the remainder of their life. Again, it is claimed that it would be impracticable for a mentally afflicted person to receive the pension. That is true, but in clause 36 it is provided that, in certain circumstances, the pension may be paid, not to the pensioner herself, but to some person approved by the Commissioner. The same could be done in the case of an inmate of a mental hospital.

Mr Blackburn - In clause 36, it is provided that the pension shall be paid to some person other than the pensioner in the event of the pensioner's " infirmity, ill-health, insanity or improvidence ". ' Sir FREDERICK STEWART. - Presumably that applies to the case of an insane widow who continues to reside in her own home, so why should it not also apply to the widow who is so unfortunate as to have to go into an institution for the insane? I am not permitted under the standing orders to move an amendment, but I suggest to the Minister that he remove this anomaly. I know that if the suggestion were accepted, there would be reactions in other spheres, but that would not deter me. As a matter of fact, there is every reason why justice should be done in those other cases also.

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