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Tuesday, 19 May 1942


Mr JAMES (Hunter) .- Evidently the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) fears that New South Wales may continue to pay widows' pensions even after this bill becomes law, so that a widow may be drawing a pension from both the State and the Commonwealth. I should say that that is far from the intention of the Government of New South Wales. I am glad that what has been described as the " means " test in the New South Wales Act has been omitted from this bill. In the New South Wales legislation the income of children living in a home wa3 regarded, up to 50 per cent., as the income of the mother, and in the case of children living away from home the amount was fixed at 25 per cent, and the assessment of a widow's pension was arrived at on this basis whether or not the children paid. I have always objected to the principle that children should be made to contribute towards the pension of their parents. Great credit is due to the Government of New

South Wales for having introduced a widows' pension scheme, and credit is due in particular to Mr. Lang, who was Premier of New South Wales when the measure was brought in. As a matter of fact, the measure was better when it was first passed than it is now, because it has been mutilated by various governments. New South Wales has led the other States in such social legislation as workmen's compensation, widows' pensions and child endowment, and has suffered because of its advanced social legislation. Its markets have been flooded by goods manufactured in States where wages are lower and social conditions not so good. I compliment the Government upon having introduced this measure which is long overdue. I was for many years associated with the coal-mining industry, and on more than one occasion it was my unpleasant duty to break the news to women when their husbands had been killed. Widows often had a hard struggle to rear their families. Sometimes their health broke down, and they had to go into hospital. From now on women similarly placed will have the benefit of a pension, and will be able to keep their homes together, and bring up their children in reasonable comfort. Widows' pensions have been paid in New South Wales for some years, and it is very desirable that a similar scheme should be in force in all the other States. This is an example of humanitarian legislation, and I ask the Government not to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Lilley.







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