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Tuesday, 23 August 1960

Mr TURNBULL (Mallee) .- I have been pleased to hear the remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) in supporting this motion. I want to refer to one matter which perhaps has some bearing on the subject. I intended to bring it up during the Budget debate. Service pensioners, when the legislation foreshadowed in the Budget is approved by Parliament, will be eligible for free repatriation hospital treatment. That means that, in Victoria, they will be eligible to go into Heidelberg Hospital.

There are some people in this country little if any better off than service pensioners and yet are ex-servicemen. The Government has provided that people in this income range shall benefit from a taxation age allowance in order to bring their position into line with that of pensioners. If service pensioners are to be allowed hospital treatment for certain ailment's which i are nol! war-caused, why should not the ex-servicemen included among these other people to whom I have referred receive that treatment? I remind the House that the service pension is different from the war pension. The service pension is paid to the burnt-out digger who is unemployable and can meet the means test He may receive it in certain circumstances at the age of 40 or 50 years, but generally it is paid when he reaches 60. Let us compare the mau who receives the service pension at 60 years of age with the exserviceman who receives the age pension at 65 years of age. Under the act as it now stands, the ex-serviceman in receipt of the age pension is not eligible for repatriation benefits for ailments that are not caused by the war.

Mr Griffiths - He can apply for the service pension instead.

Mr TURNBULL - That is what he will have to do. That position is easily overcome. But it is not so easy to overcome the problem of an ex-serviceman whose income from property is such that he is ineligible for a service pension. His income may be only about the same as that of the man on the service pension. I have not much time left in which to speak now but it is my intention, during the Budget debate, to bring this point of view forward. The matter raised by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) is much more embracing than the point that I am bringing forward, but I believe that this matter must receive particular attention from the Government, which has already shown where it stands in taxation matters by providing an age allowance for people in similar financial circumstances to the people to whom I have referred. I am sure that, when the matter is raised during the Budget debate, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator Sir Walter Cooper) will examine the possibility of introducing amending legislation in order to overcome what I think is an anomaly.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Pearce) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.

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