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Wednesday, 5 September 1928

Mr COLEMAN (Reid) .- For many years I have urged in the House some re-adjustment of the payments in respect of inmates of institutions, and during the budget debates in previous years I suggested that the difference m between the full pension and the total amount then paid to the institution and the inmate should be given to the latter or divided between him and the institution. However, I am glad that the Government has at last taken action to remove what was an undoubted anomaly, although I consider that a much better policy would be to pay the full amount to the pensioner, and allow him to make arrangements with the institution for his maintenance. One fault of the present system is that the inmate of an institution is robbed of all sense of independence, inasmuch as the money for his maintenance is paid, not by himself, but by the Commonwealth. Recently the accommodation and treatment given to inmates of State institutions have provoked a good deal of criticism. Many persons are compelled to enter institutions or suffer the cancellation of their pensions, and I think it would be preferable to give the full pension as a right to every person qualified to receive it. I am disappointed also that the Government has not further investigated the many harassing restrictions in connexion with the payment of pensions. Time will not permit me to deal with them this afternoon, but I have stated them in the House and made suggestions for their rectification on many occasions. Clause 5 of the bill deals with pensioners in hospitals. Many of those who enter hospitals have others partly dependent upon them, and the loss of their pension while in an hospital is a severe hardship, especially if the illness is protracted. As a rule hospital treatment is given free to any indigent person, and I think that pensioners who are obliged to enter hospitals should continue to receive the full pension. I hope the other anomalies remaining in the existing law will be rectified at a future date. In the meantime, I express my appreciation of the action of the Government in meeting what I believe to be the unanimous wish of the House in regard to pensioners who are inmates of institutions.

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