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Wednesday, 2 December 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The statement of the Minister convinces me that the position is worse than I first suspected, and my amendment becomes very much more essential than I believed it to be. Proposed new section 45AO provides that if an applicant for service pension becomes an inmate of one of the several institutions mentioned therein, he shall not be paid any amount exceeding 12s. a fortnight. The clause does not provide that lie is to get anything; obviously, he is to have something taken away from him.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - In such circumstances he gets nothing under thu law as it stands at present.

Senator COLLINGS - That is exactly what I wanted to get at. Apparently, when a soldier becomes mentally or physically sick and is forced to enter an institution for treatment, his pension is cut off. That is even bigger swindling on the part of the Government that boasts of its admiration for the service which these men rendered to the nation. As is well known to every honorable senator, I am no lip loyalist ; I want the laws of this country translated into something more than lip loyalty. I have learned with dismay, not to say disgust, that when a war pensioner becomes an inmate of an institution through no fault of his own, but because of the sacrifices he has made, his pension is stopped. If that be so, when such a pensioner becomes an inmate of the institution, Commonwealth revenue is increased by the full amount of his pension. What the Government proposes to do now is merely to diminish the degree of its infamy.

Senator Hardy - Why did the honorable senator vote for the original section in the act?

Senator COLLINGS - I am not sure that the original section was inserted in the act, since I have been a member of this Senate.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It was inserted last year.

Senator COLLINGS - If that be so, my perception must have been sharpened since then; I cannot, however, congratulate Senator Hardy, who has been in full possession of his perceptive powers all the time, in having allowed this section to be inserted in the act. This is the first I have heard of it, although I knew that when an invalid or old-age pensioner became an inmate of an institution, a portion of his pension was withheld from him. I did not, however, know that the same practice was adopted in the case of war pensions. I stick to my amendment, taking the risk that only members of the Opposition will vote in favour of it.

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