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Tuesday, 12 June 1928

Dr EARLE PAGE (Cowper) (Treasurer) . - I move -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund a sum for war pensions.

The object of the bill is to appropriate from the Consolidated Revenue Fund a further £10,000,000 for the payment of war pensions. The measure does not deal in any way with the rates nor the conditions governing the granting of pensions, but merely asks Parliament to provide the money to pay those which have been or will be granted under the Australian Soldiers' Repatriation Act.

The number of pensions in force at 30th June last was 259,821, and the annual liability in respect of them is £7,372,768. The number is increasing, due to the granting of new claims, mainly in respect of newly-born children and newly-married wives of ex-soldiers who are pensioners, and it is estimated that the number in force at 30th June, 1929, .will be 271,899 ; at that the annual cost will be £7,651,124.

Mr Blakeley - When does the Treasurer anticipate that we shall reach the peak year?

Dr EARLE PAGE - In 1931 or 1932, so far as we can gauge the position at present. The total expenditure on war pensions to 31st March, 1928, was £71,089,581. The last appropriation was made by Parliament in August, 1926, the amount involved being £10,000,000. The balance of the appropriation unexpended at 31st March last was £3,032,089, which would only be sufficient to cover payments to the end of August. A further appro- priation is, therefore, required to meet the total payments for 1928-29. The usual practice of asking Parliament to vote a lump sum has been followed and the amount of £10,000,000 has accordingly been included in the bill.

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