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Wednesday, 15 September 1971
Page: 1326

Mr IRWIN (Mitchell) - I support the cognate 3 Bills which are being considered in this debate. Direct Commonwealth employees are covered by the superannuation proposals we are discussing. Employees of Commonwealth authorities will be treated similarly by those authorities through their own funds. As has been stated, the last adjustment to superannuation and retiring benefits was made in 1967 and because of increased prices it is necessary to provide for increased allocations from Consolidated Revenue for increased pensions. A considerable sum will be paid to certain employees. However. as in all superannuation and retirement benefits schemes, anomalies do occur. By some means pensioners are aware of such anomalies and the pensioner who is receiving a lesser amount by way of retiring benefit always feels badly treated. It is difficult to know what sort of scheme could replace the present funds. I am pleased, however, to note from the second reading speech of the Minister for the Army and Minister assisting the Treasurer (Mr Peacock) that those persons in receipt of benefits will receive a substantial amount. I am delighted to read that statement. The people covered by these Bills have served in various areas of activity. Some have been in the Commonwealth Public Service. Others have served in the 3 armed Services. The third group is our confreres who have retired from parliamentary service. It is good to know that these people are being considered at this time and that all parties in the Parliament are unanimous in their support for these measures in respect of pensioners.

I was very pleased to read the new provision which means that the increase proposed by this legislation will be passed on to widows. Certain orphans will receive increased pensions also. Special consideration will be given, in a 5-year examination that is about to commence, to the position of orphans and children.

I am always intrigued, when I receive certain documents, as to why simplicity cannot be the order of the day in their preparation. The people who draw up these documents understand what they mean, but a bit of deciphering and understanding is necessary to get a clear picture of just what the entitlement means with respect to the various rates of pension. One paragraph in the second reading speech delivered by the Minister assisting the Treasurer in presenting the Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1971 intrigues me. I have shown it to many people but I have not been able to get a literal interpretation of it. The paragraph reads:

Provision has been made in the Bill to increase, as appropriate, a pension that became payable, on or before 30th June 1971, to a person who elected to have the preservation provisions of the Superannuation Act 1971 apply to him and who took his preservation benefit in the form of a deferred pension.

I understand from our good friends on my left - I refer to the departmental advisers - that, evidently, people have the right to defer a pension or to take up a deferred pension and that that paragraph brings them within the scope of the relevant Bill.

The machinations of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and the DFRB scheme have been found to be very difficult to understand. I think it was before 1958 that a different scheme was introduced. Anomalies were created in that scheme. Unfortunately, the personnel of the various Services did not have the scheme explained explicitly enough at the time of its inauguration and I understand from some people in the Services that the officers who were detailed to explain the provisions and the ramifications of the DFRB scheme found it difficult to understand the facts that they were endeavouring to communicate to other people.

These 3 Bills are good Bills. They will alleviate certain problems experienced by many people now in retirement. Each and every one of us should hold these people in the greatest of veneration. I am pleased to add my compliments to those already extended to the Treasurer who is responsible for this Bill and its introduction here. I trust that we will not allow these provisions to go so long again without amendment. Perhaps inflation can be kept in hand. 1 would hope that, because of price increases a different type of thinking may be adopted as a result of which it will not be necessary to introduce further adjustments to this legislation for the reasons that have brought these Bills before the House.

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