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Wednesday, 21 September 1960

Mr OPPERMAN (Corio) (Minister for Shipping and Transport) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill, which has been received from the Senate, provides for an increase in the rate of certain pensions which are payable under the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act. That act first came into operation in 1940, and has been amended a number of times in recent years. The main purpose of each of the amending acts has been to authorize increases in pensions as had been approved by the Government and provided for in the respective Budgets.

Pensions payable under the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act have always been maintained at the same level as the corresponding class of pension payable under the Repatriation Art. Following the Government's decision to increase further pensions of incapacitated ex-members of the forces and war widows, as announced in the Budget, the Repatriation Bill which has just been before this House was introduced. It is therefore necessary to introduce this bill also in order that similar increases may be granted under the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act.

Australian mariners who are totally but not permanently incapacitated, and widows, are granted general pension rate pensions as specified in the First Schedule to the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act, and a partially incapacitated mariner receives a pension proportionate to the degree of his incapacity. A pension as specified under the Repatriation Act is paid to a mariner who is totally and permanently incapacitated or suffers from a special disability as specified. Under this bill an allround increase of 5s. a week is to be paid to widows of Australian mariners, bringing their weekly rates to amounts ranging from £5 10s. to £6 8s. a week.

The Repatriation Bill provides for amendment of the Second Schedule to the Repatriation Act to increase special rate pensions by 10s. a week to £12 15s. a week. It is unnecessary, however, to include these increases in the provisions of the bill now under consideration as, by virtue of section 22a of the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act, they will be automatically applied to Australian mariners suffering similar incapacity. The bill includes the usual provision for the amending act to come into operation on the day on which it receives Royal Assent and for the increased pensions to be payable on the first pension pay day thereafter. The increases proposed will, I feel sure, have the support of all honorable members, and the bill is recommended for their favorable consideration.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.

Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.

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