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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Senator ARTHUR (New South Wales) . - The position of a woman whose husband is an -inmate of a sanatorium is not as the Minister has stated it to be. I know of a number of instances of this kind. One of them relates to a man who commenced work in a mine at Broken Hill in March, 1904, and worked there continuously until 1919 when, owing to certain action by the mining companies, a big strike occurred. This man then left Broken Hill and became engaged in the pastoral industry in Western Australia. In 1929 he returned to Broken Hill to resume work in the mines. When medically examined, it was discovered he had pneumoniconiosis and under the law was not entitled to compensation. During his absence an investigation, in which I took part, was made of miners' silicosis and the payment of compensation to men affected. One outcome of that investigation was that provision was made for " hard-luck " cases, which included men who had been absent from Broken Hill when the new rule became operative. Difficulty arose because only a certain sum of money had been set aside to cover such cases. A man may have had to wait until some other sufferer died before he could benefit from the " hard-luck " provision. The Bavin Government of New South Wales amended the act including the provisions relating to ''hardluck " cases. I know of two men in the Waterfall Sanatorium whose wives have to go out to work in order to provide for their families, yet a woman over 50 years of age who is divorced because of her misconduct may, under this legislation, receive a pension for life. At the Waterfall Sanatorium there are also men suffering from white lead poisoning. I know five or six such sufferers, and although they themselves are entitled to the invalid pension the amount payable to them is not sufficient to support a wife. Men suffering from such industrial diseases as lead poisoning, silicosis, or pneumoniconiosis, require the whole of their pension to provide nourishing food for themselves, with the result that their wives and children may be insufficiently clothed and have to exist on the dole. I urge the Minister to make provision for women whose husbands are suffering from industrial diseases and receive an invalid pension only for their own incapacity.

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