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Friday, 18 September 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The Opposition willingly agrees to the suggestion of the Minister (Senator A. J. McLachlan) that the passage of this bill should be expedited. Its members are as anxious as he is that some of those who will be assisted by this legislation shall derive that assistance as early as possible.

I express the disappointment of the Opposition that the Government, with its abounding revenue and considerable surplus, did not see its way to increase the weekly payment to old-age and invalid pensioners by 2s. instead of1s.a week, in order to bring the amount up to £1 a week.

Senator Hardy - The pension will automatically be raised if the cost of living increases.

Senator COLLINGS - The Leader of the Country party (Senator Hardy), like many other supporters of the Government, seems to be obsessed by the idea that the reduction of the cost of living is a wonderful blessing to those individuals in the community who in their oldage are forced to accept less than £1 a week. If there is anything other than pure sophistry in the argument, it applies with equal force to those other individuals who will benefit from this legislation. The idea that the feelings of those who are condemned to spend their declining years on less than £1 a week will be soothed by the knowledge that the cost of butter has fallen a few decimal points of a penny per pound, seems to me to be based on an utter lack of sympathy with these unfortunate people. I understood the Minister to say that the additional 1s. a week to be paid in respect of pensioners who are inmates of institutions will be divided between the pensioners and the institutions.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That is so.

Senator COLLINGS - I am sorry that that provision is included in the bill. The extra1s. should have gone to the pensioners. Institutions have no right to be making a profit out of pensioners.

Honorable Senators. - They do not make profit out of pensioners

Senator COLLINGS - At any rate, they have no right to be decreasing their loss at the expense of the pensioner inmates. These institutions should be made a charge against the general community, and not against the unfortunate pensioners.

Whilst expressing great pleasure that the salaries of public servantswill be fully restored, I desire to know upon what date the increases will be paid. Will the same expedition be shown by the Government in regard to the Public Service as is to be shown in regard to the pensioners?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That will depend upon the expedition with which the bill is dealt in this chamber.

Senator COLLINGS - Well, the Opposition will be right behind the Government in letting the Public Service receive the benefit of this measure at the earliest possible moment. At this stage, as I desire to expedite the passage of the bill, I have nothing to add, and I propose to be equally brief when the bill is in committee.

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