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Tuesday, 19 May 1942

Mr HARRISON (WENTWORTH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I have laid the basis for a very logical argument against the amendment. I point out. again that we have made provision in our industrial legislation for varying factors within the various States. The Commonwealth has accepted the principle of variations within the States, and therefore, when fixing the basic wage it takes into consideration factors within the States, and either increases or decreases the industrial rate accordingly. The ideal is an equitable widow's pension throughout the Commonwealth, but that ideal has not yet been reached.

Mr Paterson - If the honorable gentleman is correct about variations, the only way to put matters right is for the Commonwealth to make such variations as would meet the case of each State.

Mr HARRISON - I was coming to that point. Although I cannot possibly support the amendment of the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly) because it would not improve the position, I suggest that the committee should give serious consideration to the suggestion of the honorable member for Gippsland that provision be made to vary the pension so that it would apply equally in all the States. If that were done, I am confident that no honorable member would oppose it.

Mr Spender - What attitude did the honorable member adopt in connexion with invalid and old-age pensions?

Mr HARRISON - That legislation was on the statute-book before I entered Parliament. Like the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Spender), who, no doubt, has frequently been confronted with a fait accompli, I accepted the inevitable. Honorable members who are aiming at uniformity throughout the Commonwealth can achieve that objective by means other than those suggested by the honorable member for Lilley. If a rate of pension is decided upon without taking into consideration the factors which I have mentioned, some persons in the community will be placed at a disadvantage compared with others. I cannot support the amendment, but I ask the Minister to give consideration to the suggestions that I have made. The sooner we realize that unification is inevitable and take steps to meet such, a situation, the better it will be for tile Commonwealth.

Mr Spender - Why not take one step along with the honorable member for Lilley?

Mr HARRISON - His proposal will not get us very far.

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