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Tuesday, 19 May 1942
Page: 1365

Mr FRANCIS (Moreton) .- A vital principle is involved in the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Jolly). We should not coerce the States, or, as the honorable member for New England (Mr. Abbott) suggested, blast them out of this field; but this Parliament is entitled to legislate as it thinks fit. The honorable member for Lilley is seeking to introduce an entirely new principle into Commonwealth legislation. I remind the committee that invalid and old-age pensions were paid by some of the States before federation and for some years afterwards. Then, in 1908, the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Commonwealth Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, and from that year until 1942 no government has sought to amend the Commonwealth act by inserting a provision that no invalid or aged person is entitled to a Commonwealth pension if he or she is in receipt of one from a State. Child endowment has been paid in some States for years past; yet, in 1941, when the Commonwealth Child Endowment Act was passed, no attempt was made to insert in it a provision similar to that which the honorable member for Lilley is now seeking to insert in the Widows' Pensions Bill. There seems to be a fear lest the States may, in special circumstances, provide additional benefits for widows. If they do, they will, having regard to the uniform tax proposals now before this Parliament, have to answer to their own electors for their action. I hope that the amendment will not be carried, and that the

States will not be unwise enough to do now what they have not done in regard to invalid and old-age pensions or child endowment. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Duncan-Hughes) saw fit to quote Regulation No. 19 under Statutory Rule No. 9 of 1942, which is as follows : -

A pension shall not be granted or payable in respect of the death or incapacity of any person if a pension is payable, in respect of that death or incapacity, under the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act 1920-1941 or the Seamen's War Pensions an:! Allowances Act 1940, or compensation is s<~ pr Table under the Naval Defence Act 1010-1 '>34, the Defence Act 1903-1941, the Air Force Act 1023-1939, or the National Security (Civil Defences Volunteers' Compensation) Regulations.

All the pensions mentioned there are Commonwealth pensions. It is laid down that the Commonwealth shall not pay compensation twice, nor pay two separate pensions to the same person for the same . disability, but there is nothing to prevent the States from doing what they choose in the exercise of their own powers. I hope that we shall continue to legislate in regard to social services as we have done since 1908, and that we shall refrain from trying to coerce the States. They have their own problems, and should be allowed to attend to their own affairs.

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