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Thursday, 22 April 1915

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) .- I should not like any reflection on public institutions which have done so much for the people of this country to pass unchallenged. To suggest, as the Prime Minister has done, that the committees of management desire to make a profit out of payments made in respect of old-age pensioners by obtaining from the State a subsidy on their total contributions - including the amount paid by the Commonwealth in respect of old-age pensions - is hardly a fair return for what these institutions have done. In country districts, and particularly in mining towns, our public hospitals are maintained only as the result of the splendid work done by public-spirited citizens.

Mr Page - It is a labour of love

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - A labour of love deserving no derision, even at the hands of the honorable member. Those responsible for the management of these institutions are not the class of men to come cap in hand to any Government, or to try to evade their responsibilities. But the Commonwealth, having taken over the care of the aged poor, should not withhold the payment of pensions to pensioners as soon as they fall into ill-health. I hope that the Prime Minister will not deal with this matter in any captious spirit, because of any warmth that has been imported into the debate, but that the representations made on behalf of 90 per cent, of the hospitals of this State will be carefully considered by the Government.

Proposed vote agreed to.

Division 18 (Maternity Allowance Office), £10,745; division 19 (Land Tax Office), £80,300; division 20 (Government Printer), £20,132; division 21 (GovernorGeneral's Office), £3,600; division 22 (Coinage), £12,000; division 23 (Miscellaneous), £487,010; division 24 (Unforeseen Expenditure), £2,000, agreed to.

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