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Tuesday, 9 September 1958
Page: 975


Mr GALVIN (Kingston) .- I rise to say a few words on the votes for both the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health, but before doing so, I wish to comment on the speech made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). He referred us to the commandment " Honour thy father and thy mother". Surely the commandments are not to be used by the Government as an excuse for avoiding its obligations to the Australian people. I remind the honorable member for Moreton that in the coming weeks he and some other honorable members should give thought to another commandment, which says, " Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour ", because quite often at election time many false things are said. It is easy to recommend one commandment, but I suggest that we have a look at the whole lot and give a good deal of thought to them in the weeks to come.

I should like to make a reference to the supplementary pension which, it is intimated, will be payable to those single pensioners living alone and paying rent. The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) advises pensioners to apply if they consider that they are eligible, but I suggest that he knows as well as do the majority of people the numbers of disappointed persons who have already gone to officers of the Department of Social Services and been advised that they are wasting their time in applying.

I challenge the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) to tell us immediately what instructions have gone out to departmental officers. What applications have they been directed to reject? The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) pointed out how cruel it was to tell people they should apply, to build them up to believe that they will receive an extra 10s. a week, when it is known already that they have no hope whatsoever of receiving it, because the instruction, regulation, or whatever it is, that the Minister has already issued to his officers, telling them who is and who is not eligible, clearly restricts payment of that 10s. to a very, very small percentage of pensioners. It is a complete disgrace to be advising pensioners to apply without informing them beforehand whether or not they are eligible to receive the payment.- Why does the Minister not make it clear to them, so that they will be fully informed and will not go to the trouble of filling in forms and getting a rejection? All that is being done is to make extra work for the Minister's own department. He is cluttering up the department with work and kidding to people. If the Minister was game to table his instructions, they would show just how few will be eligible for this benefit.


Mr Wilson - It is perfectly clear who is entitled.


Mr GALVIN - Is it perfectly clear? I should like the Minister to make it perfectly clear. The Minister has refused to answer several questions about this matter. He is quite content to tell the people to apply to the department. It is the Minister's responsibility to make a statement as to who is eligible and who is not. It is just another way of trying to mislead the people into believing that something is being done about social services. Child endowment has been completely forgotten. There has been no mention of it. The young mothers who depend so much on child endowment receive no assistance whatever. The mothers of Australia and the age pensioners have been forgotten by this Government. The only handout is a make-believe show of providing 10s. supplementary rent allowance. The field of social services has been covered very fully by honorable members on this side of the House, and the Government has been clearly shown to have failed to face up to its responsibilities.

I turn now to the matter of unemployment. Yesterday, a man 58 years of age came to see me. He has been out of work for nine months, and cannot find employment. He and his wife are existing on £5 12s. 6d. a week unemployment benefit. They are worse off than age pensioners. This man has no hope of a job while this Government remains in office. He will be obliged to remain on unemployment benefit. He has been out of work for nine months, and £5 1 2s. 6d. is the most that the Government will give him to support himself and his wife.

I should like to deal now with the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness, for which £72.500 has been provided in the Estimates. The National Fitness Act states -

The Council shall advise the Minister with respect to the promotion of national fitness, and in particular in relation to -

(a)   the measures to be adopted to develop appreciation of the need for physical fitness;

(b)   the provision of facilities for instruction in the principles of physical education;

(c)   the organization of movements, and the provision of facilities, for attaining or maintaining personal physical fitness; and

(d)   the training of teachers of classes, and of leaders of movements or groups, formed for the purpose of promoting physical fitness.

When the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) took over his portfolio some time ago I hoped that he would show some interest in the National Fitness Councils. The Commonwealth Council for National Fitness has repeatedly asked the Minister to confer with the various State National Fitness Councils in order to ascertain their needs. But this Minister, like his predecessor, forgets all about the councils. He says that the Government provided £72,50.0 last year, and that seems to be a reasonable amount to provide again. That amount has been provided annually for nearly nine years. Surely to-day it is either too much or too little. The Minister should consult with the various national fitness councils. If he did, and if he took the advice offered to him, I am sure that the amount set aside for the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness would be substantially increased.

At one time, at least in South Australia, the Commonwealth grant was slightly ahead of the State grant. But to-day the position is reversed. Some years ago, I made a plea for a formula to be adopted whereby a certain amount would be set aside by the Commonwealth and a certain amount by the States, and I thought that the ratio existing at that time should be maintained. But South Australia has increased its contributions, whereas there has been no alteration at all in the Commonwealth grant. I do not think that there is a real appreciation of what a National Fitness Council does. It organizes youth clubs, it supplies equipment, it advises on matters pertaining to facilities and sports programmes, and ittrains leaders in various physical games. It lends films and projectors. It operates youth hostels. All those activities take money. The success of the battle against the bodgie and widgie cults is due in no small way to the National Fitness Councils. It is hard to estimate the worth of such a service, and I am sure that the councils are entitled to the finance necessary to enable them to provide facilities and advice of the same standard provided nine years ago. To-day, they are struggling to provide extended services on a small purse. At present, a survey is being conducted in South Australia to ascertain what playing fields will be needed' in the next ten years. The task is not an easy one. The co-operation of sporting bodies has been sought and has been readily forthcoming, and it is hoped that the survey will do much to provide sporting facilities for the future. The main spearhead is the National Fitness Council, and I hope that the Minister for Health will at long last accede to the request of the various councils and arrange for regular annual meetings at which he will preside.







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