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Thursday, 28 November 1985
Page: 2458


Senator GIETZELT (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)(12.14) —Having regard to amendment No. 9, when I said that no responsible veteran leader had made such suggestions to me, I was talking about veteran leaders. There is a difference between them and leaders of serving personnel. I respect their views on the matter. I am talking about the veteran community. I am the Minister for Veterans' Affairs, and that involves, substantially, the ex-service community. I emphasise that no veteran leader has suggested anything to me along the lines that have been suggested by Senator Macklin.

In respect to Senator Macklin's amendments, I wonder whether Senator Macklin understands what is being proposed. The effects of these amendments, particularly the latter, would be so far-fetched and so lavish that it borders on complete financial irresponsibility to even propose them, let alone to expect the Senate, in regard to its capacity to amend a money Bill in the way suggested by Senator Macklin, to adopt them, and it just makes a farce of the whole process of the Senate carrying out its role of review of legislation. Conceivably, what Senator Macklin is saying under this amendment is that if a veteran receives a disability pension of 10 per cent for an ingrowing toe-nail, for example, and he retires after a full working life with no other disability and no other health problems at all, and then has a slight increase in that incapacity-I accept that ingrowing toe-nails can cause discomfort and would be acceptable as qualifying for disability allowance-that person should be entitled then automatically to become a TPI beneficiary. That is what the amendment would achieve.

Those of us who are from time to time in government, be we of the Liberal Party, the National Party, or the Labor Party, recognise that we cannot allow that sort of lavish, extravagant-there is no other word to describe this-approach to Budget matters. It is not competent for responsible governments to adopt such an approach-unless, of course, a government has the funds and the will to do so in terms of its Budget obligations.

I reiterate that I have not had any representations made to me by any of those involved in the Advisory Committee's activities. Senator Macklin has good will and a lavish approach to veterans. I think we would all share that philosophy. However, if senators are prepared to provide these sorts of benefits, let them say so. But let us then have no further suggestions that there ought to be tax cuts and reductions in public sector spending.

Question put:

That the requests (Senator Macklin's) be agreed to.