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Thursday, 25 September 1958

Dr DONALD CAMERON (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - in reply. - The speech we heard to-night from the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) was such a calm, factual, and reasoned speech, that it is not necessary for me to say very much. Considering the fact that the Labour party is going to vote for the bill, I think we can discount considerably most of what its members have just been declaiming with such heat. There are just one or two things that I should like to say. First, I want to correct the impression that someone who is not conversant with the facts of the situation might easily gain from the speech of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and from other speeches; that is, that a man in receipt of a 100 per cent war pension is therefore incapacitated from work. Of course, he is nothing of the sort. It is the totally and permanently incapacitated pensioner who is incapacitated from work. A great many 100 per cent pensioners are in receipt of at least the basic wage in addition to their pension and, as I say, those who are unable to work get the T.P.I. pension. Receipt of a 100 per cent pension does not mean that a man is incapacitated from work.

Just let me also correct this rather extraordinary idea that only a very few T.P.T. pensioners will get the 10s. increase. In fact, 75 per cent of them will get it. The slightest increase in the general pension rate will mean that the remainder will automatically get it. It is just as well to have these things straight.

The honorable member for Lalor quoted amendments to the act. Hequoted proposed section 98A, when he was talking about the 10s. a week additional assistance. He might as well have gone on to quote proposed sub-section (7.), which reads -

For the purposes of this section, the Commission may treat a service pensioner as being entirely dependant upon his service pension if that pensioner is dependant upon his service pension to such an extent that the commission considers it just so to do.

That means that the commission need not interpret the section very strictly and may extend it further.

I want to say only one other thing. The honorable member for Lalor quoted what I said in the second-reading speech. He forbore to quote the whole of it, and forbore to point out that the married T.P.I. pension" and his wife who have no other means and are able to get the service pension are getting at least £15 15s a week, and while all sorts of comparisons may be made with conditions in 1939, with the basic wage, and with this and that and the other, the plain fact remains and is apparent to every one in this House and in the country, that the repatriation pensioner is infinitely better off now than ever he was before.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.

Bill - by leave - read a third time.

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