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Thursday, 17 March 1932

Mr LANE (BARTON, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In view of the interpretation placed upon the act by the Commissioner of War Pensions that a widow is debarred altogether from a pension when her bank account exceeds £200, will the Minister investigate the hardship that is being inflicted upon many widows whose only possession is £200 or over, while other widows who have a sum only slightly less than £200, but possess a home of infinitely greater value obtain pensions? Will the Minister also arrange to increase to £300 or £400 the amount which a widow may possess?

Mr HAWKER - Two questions have been asked by the honorable member. One is whether a pension should be payable to a dependant of a deceased soldier when that dependant has £200 or more in the bank. The law provides that the pension shall not be payable unless the dependant is in necessitous circumstances, and under a regulation of the department, if a dependant has £200, he or she is not regarded as being in necessitous circumstances. There is a distinction between the widow or widowed mother of a soldier and other dependants, such as parents, of a soldier, who, in some instances, may be individuals who have become widows more than three years after the death of the soldier. In the case of a mother who was a widow when her soldier son was killed, pension is paid without conditions. It is only when widowhood has occurred long after the death of a soldier, and the pension is much in the nature of a grant ex gratia, that any restriction is imposed.

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