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Friday, 24 August 1923

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- It cannot be said that the Government has erred on the side of generosity in its treatment of the old-age pensioners, as it did with its earlier legislation which added considerably to the wealth already in the possession of the big squatters, financial institutions and shipping com,panies The Government was prepared to pay to those wealthy interests, tribute to the amount of millions of pounds from the public exchequer. But to those who have been for many years faithful citizens of the country, the Government is mean to a fault. The many disabilities to which the pensioners are subjected by regulation call for serious complaint. I understand that of some of them they are to be relieved, but the proposed amendments do not by any means provide a full measure of justice. An aged couple may have been able by sacrifices and thrift to save sufficient with which to buy a place they are pleased to call home. But when, as they become enfeebled with age, they find it necessary to live with relatives or friends in order that they may be better cared for, the rental value of their home, which should be the reward of their thrift, is deducted from their pension. There is no encouragement of providence and it is a gross anomaly, that those who have endeavoured to help themselves -should be thus penalized. I hope that the Government realizes that it is not by any means relieving all the hardships that are imposed by harsh regulations. The Government did not do itself credit when it suppressed its own supporters, in order to prevent them from voting according to their conscience upon the amount of the pension. A majority of the Committee was prepared to increase the pension to £1 per week, but because the Government declared the question vital to its existence, and so put pressure upon its own supporters, the old-age pensioners are deprived of their just due. I hope the people will realize that whilst the Government is prepared to give concessions representing many millions of pounds to those who are already well endowed with this world's goods, it refuses a just measure of relief to those who have borne the burden of difficulties of a lifetime, and in the eventide of life are dependent upon - the pension for the means of subsistence.

Clause agreed to. ,

Clause 4 -

Section 24 of the principal Act is amended -

(a)   by omitting from sub-section (1) there of the words " Thirty-nine pounds " (wherever .occurring) and inserting in their stead the words " Forty-five pounds ten shillings " ; and

(b)   by omitting from sub-section (1) there of the words " Sixty-five pounds "' and inserting in their stead the words Seventy-eight pounds."

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