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Tuesday, 29 October 1974
Page: 2079

Senator JESSOP (South Australia) - I would like to intrude into this debate for 2 minutes.

Senator Poyser - I think you are unfair because you are not on the list.

Senator JESSOP -I know that the Government Whip would afford me one or two minutes in order to support the Opposition's point of view with respect to this Bill. I, of course, endorse the action taken by the Government in raising the pensions by the amount in the Bill, that is, by 50c a week which will bring the increase to $5.50 a week. No doubt the Minister for Repatriation and Compensation (Senator Wheeldon) who represents the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) in his flamboyant reply will demonstrate that the Government has made some concessions in this regard since coming to office. But we on this side of the Senate suggest that the increase is not sufficient because of the rate at which costs are increasing in the community. Of course, the people who can least afford this increase in costs are those on fixed incomes, including those people whose suffering we are trying to alleviate tonight. We have seen in recent times the increase in postal charges which will affect the pensioners. We have seen the increased charges in other areas which certainly will touch the pockets of these people. Therefore, the Opposition is quite correct in bringing these points to the attention of the Government.

It is quite pleasing to me that Senator Hall is supporting the amendment that has been proposed by Senator Guilfoyle on behalf of the Opposition, namely, that there be incorporated in this measure some consideration for widowers and deserted husbands with dependent children. We state that they ought to be eligible for some benefit on the same basis as widows and deserted wives. It gives me some encouragement that Senator Hall chooses to support us in this regard. Over the last 30 sitting days of the Parliament he has chosen to support the Government 49 times in votes in this chamber. I believe that we ought to be working towards helping the people who are mentioned in this amendment. This is a matter to which the Opposition will pay regard when we unseat the present Labor Government. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) has indicated ways in which some economies could be effected by the present Government. We have suggested that $ 1,000m could be saved in public expenditure. But just because we suggest that -

Senator Milliner - Where would that money be saved?

Senator JESSOP - It would be saved in certain public works and matters of extravagance in this economic situation. We have also suggested that $ 1,000m ought to be paid back to the taxpayers of Australia. These suggestions represent real attempts to do something about the economic situation at the present time. We would reduce the increase in public expenditure to 25 per cent from 32 per cent, which is the percentage the present Government is contemplating. In this way, we believe that we could effect economies that would enable the Government to provide far more benefits in the way of social services, and in particular with respect to the Bill that we are discussing tonight. With those few remarks, I support the Opposition amendment.

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