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Wednesday, 29 June 1938

Mr PRICE (Booth by) .- When the bill was before this chamber previously I had some comments to offer in regard to this clause. I am still of the opinion that, as friendly societies to-day arrange for payment of sick pay from the first day of illness, we should make provision in this bill to continue that practice by making the sickness benefit payable on the first day of incapacity.

Mr Gander - Then the honorable member should vote for it.

Mr PRICE - As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) has pointed out, if we vote against this request then the clause as it originally stood, which provided for payment of sickness benefit after seven days of illness, will be incorporated in the bill. I am not in favour of a waiting period at all, but, in the circumstances, I propose to vote for the requested amendment, believing that it approaches more closely my conception of what is the fair and right thing. I see no reason whatsoever why a man, after having contributed to the national insurance fund, should not be placed in the position he was in under the friendly societies' schemes, and receive the sickness benefit from the first day of illness. I understand that one of the objections to that is that it would cost a good deal of money, but, in my opinion, a national health scheme should provide such a benefit. The Treasurer (Mr. Casey) has referred to the fact that, under the English act, Sunday is not taken into account in connexion with the waiting period. I do not know what that has to do with the matter.

Mr Casey - I said that merely in answer to a question by the Leader of the Opposition. .

Mr PRICE - Although I am not entirely in agreement with the justice of the requested amendment, I shall support it as the lesser of two evils.

Mr.Ward. - Did not the honorable member vote for the bill when itwas last before this chamber?

Mr PRICE - I did, and I maintain that my attitude in regard to it has been consistent.

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