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Thursday, 13 September 1973
Page: 1011

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) - Is there any objection? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-


Mr REYNOLDS - I thank the House. In the few minutes that are left to me let me run through what the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) has done in 9 months - and this is not the totality of it. He has increased pensions and sickness and unemployment benefits in the way 1 have just described. There were 2 increases in one year, one of them made retrospective for about 3 months. Secondly, he has abolished the means test for all persons over 75 years of age as a first step. Thirdly, the common benefit rate for all pensioners, and unemployment and sickness beneficiaries, has been provided. A single person is to receive ยง23 a week and married couples $40.50, irrespective of their age and whether they are invalids, unemployed or anything else. Fifthly, he has provided for dependants benefit for student children over 16 years of age. Previously unemployment or sickness- beneficiaries did not receive benefits for student children once they reached the age of 16 years. He has increased the benefit wherever the children are full time students.

Sixthly, he increased benefits specifically for women. I have already referred to them - the B and C class widows. He has also introduced a a supporting mothers benefit for unmarried mothers, including deserted de facto wives and de facto wives of prisoners and married women not living with their husbands for one reason or another. This is the kind of humanity that he has introduced. Some of these women are also eligible for the rehabilitation allowance. I would love to be able to talk about what this Minister has done by doubling the rates of rehabilitation allowance and by doubling the allowance for those who have to undertake their rehabilitation courses living away from home. All of the allowances have been doubled.

He has also introduced the thing that was talked about by the previous Government - portability of pensions for people who want to retire in some other country, perhaps with their relatives. They are now able to do so whether they are immigrants or Australian born. If they have lived here for 10 years - not the 20 years that was demanded by the previous Government - they are able to take their pension and live on it and continue to receive it for the rest of their lives if they go to reside in some other country for one reason or another. It is not so much what is in this Bill or what has already happened but it is what is to come that is most exciting to me.

There is the establishment of the Australian

Commission on Social Welfare headed by that distinguished social worker, Mrs Marie Coleman.

So much has she done in the Commission's report that it was applauded by the honourable member for Hotham (Mr Chipp). Last week during the Minister's speech when he tabled that report he earned the applause of the honourable member for Hotham who was gracious enough to say: 'I wish I had been able to make that speech myself. I felt so affected by his remarks that I went over and shook his hand. I did so also because of the speech he had made in a non-political way. So we can go on. There are so many things: The Australian assistance program; the special provision for homeless men; the inauguration of a program of national superannuation; the setting up of the inquiry on national superannuation, the report of which we hope by the time of the next election we will be able to present at long last to the Australian people; and a national compensation scheme inquiry. Unfortunately I do not have time to go through all of the things that have been done. This has happened in 9 months. More has happened in 9 months than happened in 9 years in some periods of the previous Government's history. I commend this Bill with all my fervour.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (DrJenkins)Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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