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Wednesday, 25 November 1959


Mr HAROLD HOLT (HigginsTreasurer) . - I wish to add a few words to what has been said. I have already said why the Government could not accept the amendment moved by the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) at the second-reading stage, the substance of which has been discussed again by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). I wish to add the comment that what we are doing is entirely consistent with what this Parliament has always done, so far as I can recall, in relation to the great body of pensioners in this country. Prior to the bringing down of the Budget each year the government in office, whether it be a government formed from the parties now on this side of the House, or a Labour government, decides on the rates of pension to apply later in the financial year. That decision is usually made in June or July. Weeks later, or even a month or two later, depending on when the Cabinet discussionsoccur, the Government announces its decision in the Budget. Weeks or even months after that announcement the Parliament, during the Budget session, debates the Government's proposals and usually adopts them. During the Budget debate and the debate on the enabling legislation, there is always a suggestion made from one side of the chamber or the other that the increase of pensions be back-dated to 1st July or some other date. Consistently we have rejected that proposition, as other governments have done. We have said that the increased benefits are to operate from the day following that on which the legislation becomes law. My colleague, the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton), is here. He is much more closely in touch with these matters than I am, but I think my recollection is accurate on the point I have mentioned. So, Sir, it is not as though we were violating some practice of the Parliament. What we have asked the Parliament to do is entirely consistent with the former practice of the Parliament.







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