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Thursday, 2 June 1960

Mr MINOGUE (West Sydney) . - This sessional period is now drawing to a close. The speeches which have been made during the last two or three days by members on this side of the House, particulary by my leader and deputy leader, have at least shown the people where Australia's wealth lies - with the friends of the Liberal Party. However, I must commend also those honorable members on the Government side who raised their voices in protest at the present state of affairs. The honorable 'member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) is one who comes to my mind. He protested about the pay-roll tax, and I shall refer to that subject later. As I have only ten minutes at my disposal I should like to speak first about the people whom I represent and who would be very glad to receive the lowest digit in the hundreds, thousands and millions of pounds about which we have been speaking during the last two or three days. I refer to the pensioners.

I should like to bring a matter before the notice of the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). I have received a letter from a pensioner constituent who lives at 96 Quarry-street, Ultimo, and, so that the contents of the letter can go on record, I shall read it -

I am writing to ask you if you can help me out with regard to my wireless licence. I have written two or three times to the PostmasterGeneral, licensing records department, but somebody is evidently passing the buck. I also have been in personally and explained things. They said that they would rectify things but nothing has been done.

Now the trouble is I have a wireless set. It belonged to an old lady and her son. I took them in and looked after them. The old lady took sick and they put her in the hospital out at Silverwater, where she died. She was 84 years old. Her son stayed on with me and he gave me the wireless in recognition for the goodness for things that I did and got for his aged mother. A few years later he had a stroke from- which he never recovered. I nursed him and looked after him until he passed away at my home.

Now the trouble is as I have told you. I asked for the licence to be transferred into my name. It is fourteen years now since he passed away and they still keep sending the licence out in Mrs. A. Norman's name, who has now been dead over 25 years, and as I have told you I have written asking them to change the licence into my name but I do not seem to get anywhere with them. I am a pensioner so I was wondering if you could take it up with the PostmasterGeneral.

The licence number is 10-02700.

Thanking you for past favours, Mr. Minogue, for which I am very grateful.

I do not think the lady would mind if I mentioned her name to the PostmasterGeneral. As she has said, she has visited the postal authorities time and time again over the last fourteen years to pay the licence-fee, and on every occasion she has told the departmental officers the same tale as she has told me, but the department is still charging this pensioner £2 15s. for a licence when she should be required to pay only 10s.

Mr Daly - Robbery!

Mr MINOGUE - It is all robbery by this Government. I hope and trust that this matter will be rectified. I shall not be satisfied if she merely receives her next licence for 10s. I want her licence-fee to be reduced and an adjustment to be made to cover the years that she has been writing to and visiting the Post Office and bringing this matter before notice. I hope that the Minister will accede to my request.

The next matter I should like to mention is the pay-roll tax. I commend the honorable member for Richmond, but of course he was speaking on behalf of the primary producers, who really are not in anything like the need of the amount of tax that they have to pay as are the people to whom I shall now refer.

Mr Bandidt - That is a rash statement.

Mr MINOGUE - Will you give me a chance to make my speech? You should be in King's Cross with the rest of the bandits. I wish to mention a matter affecting a hospital situated in the electorate of Lowe which is represented in this House by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). This hospital has 94 patients, but 56 nurses are required to look after them. Honorable members might think that this is a disproportionately high number of nurses to look after 94 patients, but 90 of them are pensioners who receive, in addition to the pension, the weekly government subsidy, for which they are very thankful. The lady in charge of the hospital appreciates that she cannot receive more assistance than is given to other hospitals in the State, but this is the only institution in which I can find accommodation for people who approach me seeking assistance. It takes in the chronically sick and the disabled. Incidentally, among the 94 patients are 40 what are called wet-bed patients. My point is that this Government compels that hospital to pay pay-roll tax. Is it not a standing disgrace that this Government should take the pay-roll tax from those people who are looking after so many pensioners including very bad cases? The Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) has been notified of the position several times, as has the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) and the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). In view of the largesse that this Government hands out to its friends in taxation relief and everything else, why does it insist on levying pay-roll tax in this case? The woman who runs this hospital cannot keep going much longer unless some relief is given in this respect. The tax payable in respect of 56 nurses is considerable.

There are many other such cases to which I could refer if I had time, but I pass now to social services generally. In West Sydney, many people in receipt of social service benefits, on becoming eligible for the age pension, are told, " You have turned 65 years of age and we cannot deal with you any longer. Go down to the Pensions Office." I have had cases of women of 60 years and men of 65 years of age who have been at least two or three months without any money whatsoever while trying to arrange for an age pension to be paid to them. Could there not be some agreement between sections of the department whereby benefit could be paid to these people while their eligibility for an age pension is being investigated? I do not want any one who is not so entitled to get a pension, but I think the Government should continue paying the benefit of £3 5s. in the circumstances I have mentioned. That would give them something to live on. The position of hundreds of people, including pensioners, in my electorate is a scandal. They are obliged to go to a soup kitchen on the last two or three days before pension day. We pride ourselves on doing good to people in other countries who are smitten by disaster, and donate relief to keep their bodies and souls together, yet we deny help to our own people who have worked hard over the years, many of them for the basic wage when it was only £5 a week.

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