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Thursday, 11 April 1957

Mr WARD (East Sydney) .- 1 did not intend to speak, but when I saw that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt) was in such a co-operative mood, I thought I would make a few suggestions of my own. Quite recently, I sent a telegram to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) regarding the distress among pensioners in this country and I received a reply from the Prime Minister to the effect that he was unaware that there was any distress among that section of the community. It was a most amazing reply. The Prime Minister is away and we are going to close the Parliament for nineteen days. As we do not meet very frequently, as is shown by the number of sitting days in a year, I take this opportunity to raise the matter with another Minister. I know I cannot get the Prime Minister to come with me to see the distress that exists in some of the metropolitan areas among the pensioners, because at the moment he is paying a courtesy call on his old friend, the Emperor of Japan.

Mr Killen - The honorable member said that last night.

Mr WARD - Yes, and I am saying it again to-night because it seems to annoy the Liberals and the conservatives on the Government side of the House. I will say, further, that the Prime Minister is only now fulfilling a promise that he made long ago and which he could not keep because of the outbreak of war. I know the Prime Minister cannot come with me to see the distress that exists in these areas, so I invite the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is now in charge, and who is, I understand, the heir apparent to the throne, to accompany me and other members of the Opposition to the metropolitan areas, where this distress exists. If we were able to get the Minister to see this distress at firsthand, he might be a little more sympathetic in his approach to the problems and difficulties of the pensioners.

There are one or two other matters to which I want to refer. On a number of occasions on the motion for the adjournment of the House, I have raised matters of importance, but members of the Governnent, following the example of their leader, who is so contemptuous of the requirements of the Australian community, are not prepared to make a reply to allegations that are made against the Government's administration. The Minister for Labour and National Service, through the secretary of the department, is now combing applicants for vacant positions to ensure that only those persons who support the Liberal party in politics will have any hope of appointment. I accept what the Minister said when I referred recently to an applicant for the position of research officer in Brisbane. The applicants for the position were asked questions about their political opinions and their opinion of government policy.

Mr Turnbull - I rise to order. This matter has already been referred to once this week. Do not the Standing Orders say that any new reference is out of order?

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