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Wednesday, 14 December 1927

Senator CRAWFORD (QueenslandHonorary Minister) (Honorary Minister) . - Senator Grant has repeated this afternoon what he said, in effect, on the 29th November last in the debate on the Appropriation

Bill. I am sorry that the honorable senator takes the view that the department knowingly and improperly witheld payments from Mrs. McArthur. No one could come to any other conclusion from what he said. I have had a great deal to do with the Repatriation Department, and I know that many cases cannot be decided without long and .careful investigation. Sometimes years elapse before fresh evidence discloses that claimants are entitled to more than they have been receiving. Apparently that is what has happened in the case of Mrs. McArthur. Evidently the department had ascertained that being a widowed mother she was dependent to a greater extent upon her deceased son than was previously understood. For that reason the commission decided to increase her pension payment -by 12s. 3d. a fortnight. This amount, spread over a period of nearly twelve years, came to £172 3s. Id. which was duly paid to her. I understand that portion of the claim now is for interest at 4 per cent, on the difference between the original and the adjusted payments. The act does not authorize the commission to pay interest in such cases. With regard to the reductions in payments by the Invalid and Old-age Pensions department, I direct the attention of honorable senators to subsection 82 of section 24 which reads - (2). Where the pensioner has accumulated property, the amount of a pension shall be subject to the following reductions -

(a)   One pound for every complete £10 by which the net capital of the property exceeds £50......

It will be seen, therefore, that the Com missioner of Pensions, in making deductions in the payments to Mrs. McArthur, was merely carrying out the provisions of the act. It seems to me that no fault can be found with the administration of the Repatriation Act or the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, and that before any further payment could be made it would be necessary to amend one or both of those acts. I shall, however, see that the honorable senator's remarks are brought under the notice of the' Pensions Department and of the Minister in charge of Repatriation.

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