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Thursday, 5 August 1926

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - The decision in this case is similar to that given in like cases for year's past, but I think that Senator Barnes has rendered a public service in bringing the matter before Parliament. The position is that the applicant failed in her first application to establish her age, and, so far as the department was concerned, the business was at an end. 'But when her further application was made, she was able to furnish information which established the fact that at the date of her original application she' was two years older than necessary to qualify for the pension.

Senator Givens - Did not the age of the lady, given in the registration of the birth of her two children, show that she was two years younger than she claimed to be when applying for the pension ?

Senator GRANT - Senator Givens has no intention to obscure the issue, but bis interjection may have that effect. The first application should not be dissociated from the second, since there was really only one application. The births of children are carefully registered to-day, and people are kept under surveillance by the State until their death; but at the time when this applicant was born parents were less careful than they are to-day in the matter of the registration of births. The Minister should give immediate and sympathetic consideration to the application, and, if necessary, instruct the Chief Commissioner of Pensions that the act should be so interpereted as to enable the application to be granted. That would be giving bare justice "to the lady. The fact of an application not having been made at an earlier date caused her to lose the pension for two years, a sum amounting to about £90, although she was morally - and, I think, legally - entitled to it. The Minister need not be afraid of the Auditor-General complaining if such ' a course were adopted; it is merely a matter of the interpretation of the. law. Numerous cases of this kind have come under my notice. The Minister should not hesitate to change his mind, since the' facts are incontrovertibly against him, and are strongly in favour of the' applicant.

Senator Foll - Even Senator Barnes changed his mind recently on the referenda issues.

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