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Thursday, 25 February 1971

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, ls it a fact that a survey compiled by the Department of Social Services has revealed that 50,000 pensioners are inadequately housed, most of them in hovels in the inner suburbs of our capital cities? If this is so, does it not emphasise the urgency of granting an immediate pension increase pending a total restructuring of our broken down and inedaquate social welfare system? If the survey is complete, will the Minister table it as soon as possible?

Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN - lt was only as I came into the chamber that I saw a Press statement which, from its headline, would appear to be the article to which the honourable senator has referred. I shall certainly ask. the Minister for Social Services whether the facts are as reported and shall seek details of the matter. How ever, I think I should remind the honourable senator of what I have said on more than one occasion in this place, namely, that this Government has always been concerned about those pensioners, and particularly single age pensioners, who have no income other than their pensions and who have been paying exorbitant rents for very unastisfactory accommodation, lt was for this very reason that in the Budget session before last I introduced in the Senate legislation to provide dwellings for age pensioners. For the 5-year period from the passing of that legislation $25 m is being made available to the States for this purpose. This programme is going ahead and will assist (he people to whom the honourable senator has referred. The units which are already in occupation are assisting people who otherwise would be unable to get satisfactory accommodation at a price they could afford to pay from their pensions. Also T remind the honourable senator that through the Aged Persons Homes Act, under which the Government subsidises church and charitable organisations, great assistance has been given in this field. These are areas of need in which we are assisting and will continue to assist.

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