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Wednesday, 26 April 1950

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Senator HENDRICKSON (Victoria) . - If this matter were not so serious, it would be amusing to see the exception taken by the Attorney-General (Senator Spicer) and the Government Whip (Senator Wright) to the statements of honorable senators on this side of the chamber regarding the legislation that is before the committee. The AttorneyGeneral (Senator Spicer) has said that this payment would have been granted much sooner had the Opposition not opposed it. I remind the AttorneyGeneral that when the bill was brought before the chamber, the date of the first payment "was given as the 19th June. It was not altered and the Opposition has not delayed the measure in any way. All that honorable senators on this side of the Senate have tried to do is to obtain some compensation for mothers for the rise in prices. Even if the Government did not intend to make the payment retrospective, it might have given the suggestion consideration. Honorable senators on this side of the chamber have shown that finance could not be the difficulty because this Government has been left an overflowing treasury. The Opposition contends that if there is no other obstacle, the Government might reconsider the matter irrespective of whether it was in the minds of members of the Government or of the present Prime

Minister (Mr. Menzies) when he made his policy speech. Regarding Senator Wright's comment on Senator Fraser's charge that this is a fraud, I remind the chamber 'that that is what has taken the time of the committee. The Opposition has tried to prove to the people of Australia and to honorable senators opposite, who do not understand industry except its profit making aspect, that this is a fraud. Although honorable senators on the Government side might consider that the Opposition has wasted time, honorable senators on the Labour benches will be able to refer proudly to the records of Hansard when the people of Australia awaken to the fraud that has been imposed upon them.

Senator SPICER - I thought the honorable senator supported the measure?

Senator HENDRICKSON - The AttorneyGeneral interjects. I say frankly that I am prepared to support anything that he is prepared to give to the people but I will not fool the people by giving them three pence or a shilling with one hand when I have the other hand in another pocket taking out 5s. or 6s. That is the point that the Opposition has made. I remind Senator Wright and the Attorney-General that honorable senators who support the Labour party were sent to this chamber by the people, as were all honorable senators. If honorable senators on this side of the chamber take part in a debate, the points that they make are in the best interests of all the Australian people. Because of the rise in prices since December and the extra cost that is imposed on the mothers, I hope that this retrospective payment will be considered by the Government even if it was not in the mind of the Minister or of the present Prime Minister when the legislation was first considered. The worthy mothers of the Commonwealth would thus be granted some little financial assistance to meet the extra costs resulting from the rise in prices.

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