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Thursday, 25 October 1973
Page: 2673

Mr WILSON (STURT, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I direct my question to the Prime Minister. In view of the Government's announced support for quarterly cost of living adjustments for wage earners, will the Prime Minister support quarterly cost of living adjustments for pensioners and superannuitants, together with supplementary annual or half-yearly adjustments to maintain relationship with average weekly earnings so that those dependent on these incomes share in the growth of real incomes and are not disadvantaged by rising prices? Does the Prime Minister agree that in view of the current rate of inflation there is urgent need for a preChristmas increase in pensions to enable pensioners to cope with rising prices, including rents, rates and taxes, and to prevent their pensions from falling behind the announced goal of 25 per cent of average weekly earnings, or does he see himself as a law broker, willing to act only in return for support, on this occasion in the form of votes at the forthcoming referendum?

Mr WHITLAM - I would have thought that all honourable members and most members of the public would be aware that the Government is committed to the proposition of twice-yearly adjustment of pensions. The Government made such an adjustment in the autumn session of this Parliament, it has done it in this Budget session, and in the Budget speech it undertook to do so in the autumn session next year. Yesterday I stated, and I will state again now, that there is great merit in the same periodic adjustment - I did not use the term 'quarterly adjustment' - of wages and salaries. At the moment the Australian Parliament cannot achieve for wages and salaries what it can achieve and what, under the present Government, it does achieve in respect of pensions. I hope that the honourable gentleman will be one of those who make it possible on 8 December for the Australian Parliament to do for wage and salary earners what it is now, under this Government, doing for pensioners.

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