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Wednesday, 28 November 1973
Page: 2181

Senator WEBSTER (VICTORIA) -Is the Minister representing the Minister for Social Security aware that current statistics show that the standard pension as a percentage of average weekly earnings has now fallen below that level of return to pensioners which was paid by the former Government in the year prior to Labor gaining office? Is the Minister aware that in December 1972 the basic pension was 20.7 per cent of average weekly earnings and that it has now fallen to 19.5 per cent of average weekly earnings? If the Minister doubts or challenges these figures will he bring to the Senate the Government's evaluation of this situation? If the Government's inflationary management of the economy continues, in what year is Labor's promise to lift basic pensions to 25 per cent of average weekly earning to be achieved?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I seem to be answering in parrot like fashion questions of this nature addressed to me in my capacity as

Minister representing the Minister for Social Security. This is about the third or fourth occasion in recent weeks that a question along these lines has been directed to me. On each occasion I have said that the Government's policy is to increase the rate of pension until such time as it is equal to 25 per cent of the average weekly male earnings. It is rather interesting to me to hear members of the Opposition, who were in government for a period of 23 years, now urging the present Government to make these adjustments which for 23 years they constantly refused to make. We have said that in each session of the Parliament there will be an increase of at least $ 1.50 a week in the pension rate. We have carried out this policy in the 2 sessions since this Government took office. Only last week the Minister for Social Security said that if it were necessary that the $ 1 . 50 instalment be further increased having regard to cost of living adjustments it would be increased. Additionally, of course, we have set out to abolish the means test and we certainly will do so in the lifetime of this Parliament. Pensioners of this country certainly are receiving more social justice under this Government than they ever received under past governments.

Senator Webster - Mr President,could I ask a supplementary question on the basis that my question was not answered?

The PRESIDENT - Order! Whether a supplementary question is allowed resides with the Chair. You asked a very complicated question and you got a complicated answer which covered it adequately.

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