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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Mr CASEY (Corio) (Treasurer) . - Reference has been made to the British scheme under which sickness benefit is payable from the fourth day of illness, but it is unfair to,pick out a small detail of a scheme in another country and compare it with a detail of a different scheme in this country. To obtain a fair comparison, each scheme should be considered as a whole. Under the British act, Sunday is not counted as a day of illness, whereas under the present bill it is. In Great Britain there are five days of waiting, as there are to be under this measure. If the suggestion advanced by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Forde) were adopted, no more money would go into the approved societies than will be the case under the Government's proposal.

Mr Forde - More would go into the pockets of the workers.

Mr CASEY - That is not so. The approved societies would have no more funds from which to pay the various benefits; exactly the same amount of money would flow in. The amount which the approved societies would pay out would be less, but the money would be left in the hands of the societies and would be available after the quinquennial valuation for distribution in any other form of benefit desired by the societies. Nothing more would be taken away from the insured person under the Government's proposal than would be the case if it were provided that sick benefits should commence on the third or fourth day. If the fifth day is accepted, the. same amount of money will be in the hands of the approved societies, and will remain there for the benefit of all the insured persons at a. later date.

Mr Curtin - Only one half of it.

Mr CASEY - The whole of the money remains there.

Mr Curtin - Not the society of which the sick person is a member.

Mr CASEY - We have to consider the position of the societies as a whole. Taking the scheme as a whole, the Government submits that it provides the maximum amount of benefit possible; in fact, the insured person will receive three times as much benefit as he pays for. Any further benefit, such as that suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, must be provided at the expense of the insured persons themselves. Having gone into the matter thoroughly, the Government considers that the best interests of the insured persons will bo served by beginning the payment of sick benefits on the fifth day of illness.

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