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Thursday, 19 October 1911

Senator RAE (New South Wales) .- In New South Wales there is quite a number of old men whose cases I have been inquiring into, and who have been prevented from getting old-age pensions since the Commonwealth took over the administration of the Department, because the reports which State officials made years ago were adverse to their claims, perhaps in regard to behaviour. Although years have elapsed, these officers rake up the Police Court decisions against the applicants as a reason for continuing to refuse them old-age pensions. Every obstacle seems to be put in the way of men proving their ages. The very fact that a system of old-age pensions was undreamed of when they were born, and even when they arrived at early manhood, prevented themfrom taking particular care or interest in the dates when they were born, or the records which may have existed. In many cases, the record of birth or baptism has disappeared. Some of these men are not in a position to find outeven the exact spot where they were bom. I know of a case where a man could not find out the name of the parish in which he was born, because his parents died in his infancy, and he was removed by a relative to a distant part of the country. Whatever facilities are nominally granted for overcoming these difficulties, in many cases the officials put such obstacles in the way that applicants find it impossible to qualify. In the meantime, they are suffering deprivation; in fact, some applicants have died before justice could be done to them. I ask the Minister whether he cannot accept a certificate from a medical man that an applicant is obviously in excess of the qualifying age. It is preposterous to continue to demand accurate documentary evidence of age when it does not exist.

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