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Tuesday, 19 May 1942
Page: 1376

Mr CALWELL (Melbourne) . - This clause gives to the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner very wide powers. At any time he may cancel, suspend or reduce any pension if he considers it expedient to do so. The clause provides that any decision by a Deputy Commissioner shall be subject to an appeal to the Commissioner, but apparently there is no appeal to the Minister. A strong Commissioner would tell the Minister that he had no right to interfere in such a matter, if an attempt were made to exert undue political influence. Provisions making the Railways Commissioner immune from ministerial direction were included in the various railway acts of the States in order to protect the commissioners against the exercise of political influence. I do not know why this clause has been inserted. The provisions of clause 36 seem to be sufficiently wide. It provides that where the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner is satisfied that it is expedient that payment of any instalments of pension or allowance payable to a widow should be made to some other person for the benefit of the pensioner, payment may be authorized accordingly.

Mr Holloway - Clause 5 provides that the Director-General shall, subject to any direction of the Minister, have the general administration of the act. An appeal by a dissatisfied person to the Director-General would be considered, even though the Commissioner had rejected it.

Mr Chifley - A similar provision is contained in the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act.

Mr CALWELL - But should it not be explicitly stated that there shall be an appeal to the Minister or to the DirectorGeneral. The position of Director-General is a newly created one, and it seems to me that sufficient attention has not been given to the line of demarcation between the powers of the Commissioner and of the Director-General. Is the Commissioner to be subject generally to the authority of the Director-General? Would there be any objection to providing that any decision of a Deputy Commissioner shall be subject to an appeal, in the time and in the manner prescribed, to the Commissioner, and, in a case where the Commissioner has disapproved, to the Minister ?

Mr Chifley - If appeals to the Minister were permitted there would be no end to them.

Mr CALWELL - Then, in my opinion, clause 36 should suffice.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 25 (Allowances to certain widows).

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