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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1391

Mr WILSON (Sturt) - I second the motion. In doing so I want to draw to the attention of the House the original motion which this motion seeks to have further debated. The motion moved by the honourable member for Mackellar was:

That, in the opinion of this House, if the means test on social services is not abolished for all persons aged 65 and over by the time of the next Budget then:

(1)   A further substantial relaxation should be provided in the next Budget.

(2)   The Government should announce its scheduled program for total abolition with the least possible delay.

(3)   Total abolition of this means test should not be made conditional upon or involved with the implementation of other social service proposals of the Government.

Honourable members came to this House this morning expecting to have the opportunity in general business time to canvass this topic in detail. The motion deals with a number of aspects relating to the abolition of the means test. Many of us wanted to express our concern on the various aspects of this motion. In voting on it prematurely, as was done a few moments ago, the Government indicated its opposition to the abolition of the means test and to the separation of the question of means test abolition from the question of the establishment of a national superannuation fund. These were aspects which we wished to canvass in detail, because there is rising disquiet in the public mind as to whether the means test will be abolished or whether it will be replaced by the new fancy and favoured needs lest, being a means test under the guise of a new and popular name. In addition there is rising concern amongst those who wish to see a viable national superannuation scheme over to the meagre proposals enunciated in the Government's policy and platform.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes - I suggest that the honourable member is now canvassing the question and not the motion before the Chair.

Mr WILSON - These are aspects of the matter which honourable members on this side of the House wish to have an opportunity to discuss. This is a matter of great significance. The public at large - both the pensioner and the non pensioner retiree - want the questions of means test abolition and national superannuation schemes dealt with in an atmosphere of objectivity and discussed in detail so that we can achieve the best possible national retirement scheme. Here today the debate was cut short. Now honourable members on this side of the House want to have the question reopened so that the public can be made aware of the attitudes of honourable members on the Government side and members of the Opposition and so that we can have an opportunity to express in detail our concern at the various alternatives open in the achievement, firstly, of means test abolition and, secondly, of the introduction of a viable national superannuation scheme. The Government used its numbers to gag this debate. It has aroused in the minds of the public - both the retirees and all those who are taxpayers - grave concern as to whether or not the debate is being gagged so that the Government can devise a scheme whereby, under the camouflage of the total contribution, it will impose heavy and burdensome taxation-

Mr Martin - I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I ask for your guidance on this. Is it in order for the honourable member and the Opposition to try to talk out the time?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Scholes)Order!There is no substance in the point of order. I think the honourable member knows that.

Mr WILSON - I was concluding on the point that the public wants us to debate the question as to whether, by the imposition of a contribution, what will in fact be the heavy burden of taxation will be imposed upon the middle and lower income earners and, in particular, upon families. These are the sorts of questions that we wish to debate. That is why I second the motion.

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