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Wednesday, 2 December 1936

Senator ARKINS (New South Wales) . - The proposed new sub-section 3a relates to invalid and old-age pensions, and is in conflict with the service pension. . The bill enables the Repatriation Commission to overrule a decision by the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Department as to the total and permanent incapacity of a person. Thus there will be two conflicting authorities. The Invalid and Old-age Pensions Department may consider that a man or woman is totally or permanently incapacitated; but if such person desired to transfer to the service pension, the Repatriation Commission might overrule the departmental decision. In my opinion that is unjust; the departmental ruling should be permitted to stand in all circumstances.

Senator HARDY - In other words the decision of one authority should be binding.

Senator ARKINS - Yes. Competent authorities interested in this matter prefer the decision to be left with officials of the department. That there should be the possibility of a conflict of opinion between the department and the Repatriation Commission is bad, and I fear that anomalies will arise sooner or later. They have already arisen in respect of other branches of repatriation to the disadvantage of the soldier, the department, and the Government, because conflict of authority invariably means the unnecessary expenditure of money.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) -. - The honorable senator misapprehends the effect of this provision.

Senator ARKINS - I hope I do. Will the Minister in charge of the bill explain its purport?

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