Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 8 May 1942

Mr SPOONER (Robertson) .- 1 am surprised that the clause does not make provision for an amendment that should be made in the legislation. The Government has provided for the exclusion of savings bank deposits from the assets of an applicant for a pension, and the Minister might, at the same time, have removed the anomaly that exists when a pensioner has worthless assets alleged to have a value of more than £400. An inquiry by me on behalf of one of my constituents elicited the reply that the Commissioner had no discretion to deal with the case, and that he knew of a number of such cases. The applicant, had land that had been sold to him by a go-getter salesman. It consisted of mountain blocks, the value of which had remained in the books of the shire at the original figure, which was in excess of £400. The land was not an asset to the man but a liability. He was unable to pay the rates on it, which had accumulated for a. number of years. Although the land was valueless, its nominal value of more than £400 precluded him from obtaining a full pension. I realize that this matter bristles with difficulties. When I considered it a few months ago, I came to the conclusion that the only thing to do was to give to the Commissioner some discretionary power, and that we should remove from the legislation the rigidity which compete him to grant cither a pension or nothing at all.

Mr Holloway - The Commissioner has that authority now. It was given to him after we amended the legislation a few months ago.

Mr SPOONER - He was given discretionary power? Only recently cases have come to my notice.

Mr Holloway - There is no provision in the act, but an understanding was arrived at.

Mr Hughes - Will the Minister make inquiries so that if necessary this aspect can be dealt with when the bill goes to the Senate?

Mr Holloway - Yes.

Mr SPOONER - If an administrative order has been issued to give discretionary powers to the Commissioner, well and good, but the act speaks for itself.

Mr Holloway - Nothing definite could be inserted in the act; any new section dealing with that matter would have to be flexible.

Mr SPOONER - I realize that, but I suggest that the act should he amended in order to empower the Commissioner to grant pensions in such cases as I have cited. If the Government has already given that power to the Commissioner by administrative order, I have no more to say, except, of course, that an administrative instruction cannot override the act.

Mr Holloway - I assure the honorable gentleman that the Commissioner has full discretion.

Mr SPOONER - If the Government is making ex gratia payments, that is another matter, but, while the act is in the process of being amended, it would be a good idea to translate the administrative order into a section of the act so that the people who are now receiving a pension as the result of the Commissioner's strictly unauthorized discretion will receive it as a legal right. Next week, I shall place before the Minister a certain case in order to ascertain whether it is covered by his administrative order.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 (Payment of pension where pensioner in benevolent asylum).

Suggest corrections