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Tuesday, 6 April 1971

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) -I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The Bill before the Senate is in accordance with the usual practice of the Government to keep the rates of pensions and allowances payable to seamen war pensioners under the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act in line with the rates of war pensions and allowances payable to other war pensioners under the Repatriation Act. The purpose of the Bill is to raise, in relation to seamen, various rates of pension in line with the increases of corresponding rates being made in the Repatriation Bill just introduced. These increases are in accordance with the higher rates recently announced by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon).

Clause 3 of the Bill increases the intermediate rate of war pension by 50c a week to $28.50. The intermediate pension is paid to seriously disabled persons whose wax caused incapacities render them incapable of working other than on a part-time or intermittent basis. Clause 4 substitutes a new First Schedule to the Act to provide for an increase of 50c in the weekly rate of pension payable to widows of Australian mariners. The Bill does not have to provide for the increase of $1 to $39 per week in the rate of the totally and permanently incapacitated pension or for the increase of $1 in the weekly amounts payable in respect of certain disabilities described in the Fifth Schedule to the Repatriation Act, as the increased rates under that Act will apply automatically to seamen pensioners by virtue of section 22a of the Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Act.

As is the case in respect of the repatriation legislation, the Bill provides for the increases in pensions to be payable from 1st April 1971 as announced by the Prime Minister. The Government wishes to make it clear, however, as I have stated in my second Reading speech on the Repatriation Bill, that the retrospectivity involved on this occasion because of the special circumstances should not be taken as a precedent for the future. I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Bishop) adjourned.

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