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Wednesday, 17 October 1956

Mr SPEAKER -The honorable memher has said that he was making these references only in passing. I think he is in order.

Mr HAYLEN - The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) may, perhaps, agree that I am more or less making generalizations about the broad subject of the appropriation, which, of course, will be used to pay various kinds of pensions. I dealt with the totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen and with the fact that this appropriation bill does not provide sufficient money to do what the Opposition thinks should be done, that is, to give those ex-servicemen a rate of pension equal to the basic wage. I then turned my attention to the base-rate pensioners and to the percentage of the basic wage represented by their pensions. I conclude, on that subject, by saying that we still believe that a further examination of the position should bc made. This appropriation measure is positive proof that no examination has been made of the percentage of the basic wage represented by the base rate pension in the days of the Chifley Government in the early post-war period. In those days a certain percentage was established as a minimum, but it has not been maintained.

The money grant provided in this measure is limited, although in total it represents a fairly large amount of money. I believe that the reason why so many ex-servicemen are refused a pension is that the appropriation for these pensions is not large enough. The minds of departmental officers are, of necessity, conditioned by the fact that thesis so much in the till and no more. In that connexion I should be able to mention the onus of proof provisions in section 47 of the act. If a greater appropriation were made, it would be possible to have these onus of proof provisions properly administered. The contention of the Opposition is that they are not properly administered al present. The onus of proof is still on the ex-serviceman rather than on the department.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! I think the honorable member is now drifting away from the subject-matter of the bill before the House, and I must ask him to come back to it.

Mr HAYLEN - I shall cease to drift away, and shall merely say the onus of proof provisions would be more properly administered if the amount of the appropriation were increased. We tried to overcome the difficulty by saying, as a matter of policy, that any ex-serviceman of World War I., who has attained the age of 55 years and has served in a theatre of war, is automatically entitled to a pension.

The amount of the appropriation is completely inadequate for the pension requirements of ex-servicemen. I have been prevented by the Standing Orders from making certain further remarks, but that, I suppose, is fair enough, because this is an appropriation bill and not a rates bill. I conclude by saying that we support this bill, because it provides an opportunity for the meagre increases to be paid forthwith. With that fact in mind, the Opposition supports the bill.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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