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Thursday, 18 September 1958

Mr SPEAKER (Hon John McLeay

Order! The honorable member for EdenMonaro has already spoken.

Mr ROBERTON - Yes, Mr. Speaker, and he is very sorry about it now, but it is too late. The honorable member went on to say that it was untrue of the Government to say that the rates of pension had been increased, that the means test had been liberalized, and that social services had been extended and expanded.


Mr ROBERTON - He repeats it! Could I cite one instance only to demonstrate the amount of movement that has taken place in social service progress in our country? Let us consider, perhaps, the most pitiful of all people in need of social services in our country - a young widow who is left with any number of children. I do not want to say these things but I am required to say them in reply to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. In 1949 a young widow with any number of children received £2 7s. 6d. per week. Whether she had one child or six made no difference. She received £2 7s. 6d. a week. That was the limit. There was not another penny to be found anywhere for a young widow with any number of children. When her youngest child became sixteen years of age, if she was still under 45 years of age, the Labour party said to her, in effect, "This is the end for you so far as social services are concerned. Now that your youngest child is over sixteeen years of age, you can go to work for the next five years. You will not get a penny from this Government. After five years, we will consider whether you will qualify for a B class, a C class or a D class widow's pension ".

Those are the sad facts of this case. To-day, a widow with one or more children receives £4 12s. 6d. in her own right. That is the range of the increase, year by year and Budget by Budget. Under the Labour government, the limit was £2 7s. 6d. at 45 years of age. To-day, it is £4 12s. 6d. a week. A provision has been made that if her youngest child becomes sixteen years of age when she is between 45 and 50 years of age she shall be eligible immediately, in her own right, for a B class widow's pension. This Government will also pay an additional 10s. a week for every child after the first. That is another forward step in social services of the greatest practical value to the weakest section of the community.

Then, this year, this Government has brought in this innovation of a supplementary allowance which will assist B and D class widows with one or more children who have to live on a single pension, who are entirely dependent on their pension, and who pay rent. They will receive ari additional 10s. a week. So the rate has changed from £2 7s. 6d. up to the age of 45 when the widow had to go heck to work for five years until, to-day, £4s 12s. 6d. is paid to a widow with one child, plus 10s. a week for every child after the first. The act has been amended to provide that when a widow becomes 45 years of age and her youngest child is sixteen years of age she can, in her own right, immediately qualify for a B class widow's pension and an additional payment of 10s. a week.

I could give innumerable instances of the social service progress that has been made, year by year and Budget by Budget, by this Government. Indeed, I have prepared a document which I have called, with a great deal of personal and political pride, " The Achievements of the Menzies Government in Social Services ".

Mr Ward - By Peter Snodgrass?

Mr ROBERTON - I hear the bellows of honorable members of the Opposition. They hate these effectual statements from this side of the House. This document contains eight foolscap pages in single spacing setting out the achievements of the Menzies Government. It deals with the period from 1949 to the present day.


Mr ROBERTON - Do not ask too much or you will get it. It records, line by line, year by year, and Budget by Budget, the tremendous progress in social services that has been made by this country in the most advanced social services period of our political history.


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