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Thursday, 28 May 1942

Mr PERKINS (Eden) (Monaro) (10:28 AM) . - I support the remarks of the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James), and I disagree entirely with the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Spooner). He said that New South Wales had only recently included in its taxation laws a provision for allowances in respect of dependent invalids. That State did so because it adopted the recommendation made to the Commonwealth Government by the Joint Committee on Social Security'. The State saw the justice of the recommendation, and anticipated action by the Commonwealth to give effect to it. However, the Commonwealth ignored it, and, as a member of the committee, I am resentful. The committee visited all States in order to take evidence on these problems. I do not pretend that the Government should implement all of our suggestions, but it should at least take notice of a matter such as this, particularly as a State government has adopted our proposal. The Treasurer's promise to investigate the matter does not satisfy me. If New South Wales can make allowances for invalid dependants, the Commonwealth can do so. It is the fair and honest thing to do. The innovation would not cost the Government very much, but it would be of great importance to many people whose incomes are just above the line of taxation exemption. The Minister has had the advice of two committees. The recommendation of the Social Security Committee was based on evidence taken in all States, and it should be adopted without delay. The committee is representative of all parties in the Parliament and its recommendation was unanimous. If the Government will give effect to the recommendation, it will undoubtedly remedy many cases of hardship. This proposal is eminently fair, and failure to embody it in legislation will keep the nose of a good many people on the grindstone. It may be said that parents are able to obtain a pension for invalid children over the age of sixteen years whom they are maintaining, but I know of a person between 22 and 23 years of age who has lived all his life in a perambulator. Until he was sixteen years of age, bis father had the advantage of a deduction of £50 in his income tax assessment, because he was maintaining the child, but after the boy reached sixteen years of age, that deduction ceased. Yet it has not been possible to obtain an invalid pension for him. This is only one of half a dozen cases of the kind that I could mention.

Mr SCULLIN - The conditions applicable to the payment of invalid pensions were amended quite recently to provide that an invalid pension should be payable in respect of any member of the family, provided that the family income did not exceed £2 10s. for each unit-

Mr PERKINS - That may be so, but it has not been possible to obtain an invalid pension for this person.

Mr SCULLIN - What is the family income ?

Mr PERKINS - I am not sure on that point, but I know that this is a case of hardship that should be remedied. I know of an application for an invalid pension of this kind that has been re jected within the last two or three months.

Mr Scullin - I suggest that the honorable member should take the matter up again with the Minister for Social Services.

Mr PERKINS - It may be that some parents do not wish to claim invalid pensions for their children; but even though they may prefer to maintain invalids of more than sixteen years of age and so prevent them from becoming a charge upon the country, they are not allowed to claim any income tax deductions on that account. I appeal to the Treasurer to give immediate attention to cases of this kind.

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