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Wednesday, 8 December 1965

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Social Services) - The extension of the pensioner medical service to all persons receiving pensions is another instance of the way in which this Government has extended social service benefits progressively to all sections of the community. The second part of the honorable member's question related to supplementary assistance. The increase of supplementary assistance announced by the Treasurer in his Budget speech was for the purpose of extending additional assistance to single pensioners paying rent, who would seem to be the ones most affected by the cost situation in the community. It is felt that in the present situation single pensioners have a greater need than married pensioners. The distinction between single and married pensioners has been explained on a number of occasions in this House during discussions on suggestions for a standard rate of pension. The practice of paying different amounts to single and married pensioners is customarily followed in every country of the western world, on the basis that married people are able to share between them certain household expenses. The honorable member also referred to the extension of the funeral benefit. It is felt that pensioners should get the additional advantage of the extended funeral benefit, and it is to this category of person that the funeral benefit has recently been extended.

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