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Tuesday, 16 September 1958
Page: 1248

Mr COSTA (Banks) .- This is a short bill to amend the Commonwealth Superannuation Act 1922-1957. ,It extends benefits to children of deceased .contributors to the Superannuation Fund. It increases the allowance for those children under sixteen years from £1 10s. a week to £3. This provision will not cost the Government much money, because only 28 children are affected. Over a full year, it will cost £1,344. The Australian Labour party does not oppose this improvement of the benefits provided for children of deceased officers, but I would make this comment

While the measure is before us: There seems to be a great 'delay in the presentation -of 'the annual report of the Superannuation1 Board. ' The last' report we had from the board was dated June, '1956. There may be some -physical - difficulties -in relation to 'furnishing this information. Nevertheless, I believe we should have more recent information than -that when we are debating -proposals arising from the Budget.

During such a stocktaking, all the relevant papers .should he before honorable members, but this one is -long in arrears. If possible, the .information .should .be brought up to date. I have before me the report of the Auditor-General on the Superannuation .Fund, and I would comment that the .fund .in .a ,very healthy condition . At the.,end ..of . June, .1957, .accumulated ,funds had reached £50,000,000. Of that sum, £49,000,000 is invested and has an earning capacity. But I notice that the interest that accrued from investments in that particular year was a'little more than £556,000. That is a return of less than 2 per cent, and I think that the money could be better invested. "The -latest report of the Auditor-General -shows that the balance carried over from the financial year ended 30th June, 1957, was £49;901,174. The -receipts for the financial year ended 30th June, 1958, were more than £12,500,000, made up of officers' contributions, £6,061,364; payments from .Consolidated Revenue, £4,276,079,; and interest, .£2,240,000. The last item conflicts with the statement relating to .interest in the balance-sheet, as ,at 30th June, 1957, and that is why I .should like to -see. a more up-to-date -report.

The fund paid out i£4#68;827 in pensions, -£743;382 in 'lump - sum .payments -to retiring -officers, and l£652-,422 as refunds, the total payments -for the -year .being £6;"3"64;631. .This 'indicates -that the fund is in a -very -sound position. Of 'has an income of more than £12,000,000 and:itS payments amount, to about £6., 000,000; .It ,is .good ito see the, fund in such a. .healthy state.

I-do n'ot 'wish to discuss the fund generally, but 'because it "is in .such' a "healthy state 'I think that the ("Government should hive 'been -aisle to do 'more 'for those who contribute" to the "fund, "fissure the House that when the Labour party becomes the government' after the next elections, it will review this splendid' 'fund to ; see' 'Whether it can in any way increase and improve the benefits to contributors. The bill is a short one, arid does give benefits to the orphan children. 'It is not likely that there will ever be many orphans who will depend on this 'fund, because' the fund applies only to children under the age of sixteen. Payments in- respect of orphan children are never likely to be a big draw on the fund, but because the bill does give these benefits to the orphan children of superannuated contributors, the Opposition .fully supports it.

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