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Wednesday, 19 April 1972
Page: 1251

Senator WILKINSON (Western Australia) - The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) has requested that the Senate give a speedy passage to the Bill. If we do, it will be given royal assent this week-end, as the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood), who has just resumed his seat, has pointed out. The Opposition could not oppose the provisions of the Bill as they provide for an increase in social service payments and a change in the application of the means test. But this does not mean that the Opposition necessarily agrees with all the arguments that are put in order to justify the increased payments. The payments are acceptable; the arguments are not necessarily acceptable. I shall refer to one argument that was made. The AttorneyGeneral said:

This Bill will lift this purchasing power to a level greater than ever before achieved, because the present rise in pension rate is greater than the corresponding rise which has occurred in prices.

I do not see that that statement has much to do with the position. We are talking about a proper pension. That is what the Opposition is concerned about. With that short criticism of the Bill and in view of the request to give it a speedy passage, the Opposition is not opposing the Bill. We welcome it as something that will be to the benefit of pensioners who come under the provisions of the Social Services Act.

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