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Friday, 11 November 1921

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - Death may ensue after an officer has taken a portion of his leave. There may be no direct dependant, but a. relative, such as a niece, may have been attending to the officer during his illness. If the Committee retain the word " dependants," it would be impossible for the officer to leave any of the money to that relative, if he so wished. I do not see that the money must be regarded, as a gift.

Senator Russell - It has always been looked upon in that light.

Senator SENIOR - Its payment is part of the contract made with the officer, and it is not a sift.

Senator Drake-Brockman - There is no contract in this instance.

Senator SENIOR - When an officer enters into the service of the Government, it is equivalent to a contract.

Senator Benny - There is no contract in connexion with this payment. It is an act of grace on the part of the Government.

Senator Russell - Officers do not receive the payment unless they have a clean record. The payment is in addition to all salary received.

Senator SENIOR - The record of the officer is taken, into consideration, and the Department safeguards itself so as to reduce to the narrowest limit that which it binds itself to give. An officer may have lost his wife, and may leave a niece as his legal representative.

Senator Russell - If a niece were dependent on an officer, she could benefit.

Senator SENIOR - It seems like an attempt to evade a recognised duty. If death occurs before an officer has taken his furlough the cash equivalent may be withheld from the person who may be named as the beneficiary under his will.

Senator Benny - The honorable senator's argument is faulty in that an officer has no vested interest in this gift from the Government. It is optional whether the Government pay it or not.

Senator SENIOR - This debate will be illuminating to those 25,000 members of the Public Service who are dependent upon the will of the Government. They will realize that if, during their period of service, they fall sick or die, no privileges will be extended to their dependants except at the will of the Government.

Senator Russell - That is not so.

Senator SENIOR - But the argument has been put up that the cash equivalent to an officer's furlough has not been earned by the officer at all ; that, in effect, it is something over and above his salary. As a matter of fact, it is recognised as a return for long and faithful service, and an officer should have the right to direct that it be paid to his personal representative.

Senator Russell - If the honorable senator had been in touch with the Defence Department he would have known that a very large number of people, who were in no respect dependent upon deceased soldiers, lodged claims in respect of pension allowances.

Senator SENIOR - The decision of the Minister to insist on the retention of the word " dependants " will really mean that any dependant will have to set up a definite claim.

SenatorHenderson. - And if the words ' personal representative " be inserted instead, the position will be ten times worse.

Senator SENIOR - I do not agree with the honorable senator. If I died without having made a will, letters of administration would have to be applied for by some person who would have to prove that he was my legal representative. I move -

That the word "dependants," sub-clause (3), be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " personal representative."

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