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Thursday, 13 September 1973
Page: 1020

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (Minister for Social Security) - I will take only a few minutes to reply to some of the points which through misapprehension, misunderstanding or some other unfortunate reason clearly were not understood. It is satisfying to sec that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) has reformed. He is now angry and concerned about the needs of pensioners in the community. He was a member of this Parliament in the 1960s, for instance in 1968, when there was no increase in the rates of pensions. When I made my speech at the second reading stage I had a table incorporated in Hansard. The table, to which the honourable member referred quite frequently, shows that in the 1960s on 3 occasions the previous Government comprised of the Party of which he is a representative did not increase pensions at all; that : is, in 1963, 1966 and 1968.

On one of those occasions the honourable member was a member of this Parliament. I do not remember that he supported any amendment moved by the Opposition then seeking to rectify that injustice. I do not remember that he took any steps or any initiatives himself. Of course, he was consistently following the family tradition. His father was here before him and like the son he cried crocodile tears over the lot of the pensioners. I believe that one of the more touching scenes in Adelaide was the annual pilgrimage to the family cherry orchard where tea and sympathy were copiously distributed amongst pensioners toy his father, but there was never a vote by him in support of amendments moved here in support of pension increases. The son has followed in the footsteps of the father. I do not want to spend any more time on that subject.

I repeat that the steps forward in the short time that we have been in government have been much more significant than those taken at any stage in the 23 years. of administration of the Liberal-Country Party Government. That Government had adequate opportunities in nearly a quarter of a century, or well over 2 decades, to eliminate the means test and not one positive step was taken in that direction. It had adequate opportunity to establish the rate of pension payments related to a fixed formula which guaranteed that pension rates would move forward regularly according to cost of living movements so that social and economic justice would be maintained for the most deprived and dependent group in our society.

I turn now to the taxability of pensions. It would be completely unjust and inexcusable if we were to provide a full pension rate for retired millionaires and did not propose to make it taxable, especially at the present stage when so many young people have oppressive financial burdens imposed in 23 years of Liberal-Country Party administration. We are in the process of trying to eliminate that burden. It would be completely unjust if they had to continue carrying a tax burden for a redistribution from modest and low income earners with heavy financial commitments and young children to support so that benefits could be given to millionaires in their retirement. I have figures supplied by the Treasury. A person with$3, 800 annual income including pension will not have to pay tax under the arrangements we have proposed. That is more than$74 a week. I invite honourable members to look at the distribution of income and work out which people we are getting at.

According to the Bureau of Census and Statistics report very large numbers of the work force supporting young families are in that category. At $4,000 a year of non-pension income for a man with a wife, not including any of her personal income, the couple will be $1,070 a year better off, or more than $20 a week better off under our proposals. A man with $5,400 annual non-pension income will find that he and his wife are annually$1, 528 better off, or more than $30 a week better off under our very generous proposal. I am getting a lot of help from the Party Whip and accordingly I must finish at that point.

Mr Wilson - I claim to have been misrepresented but because I do not wish to delay the passage of this Bill I seek leave to raise the point of misrepresentation during the adjournment debate.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable gentleman claims to have been misrepresented and wishes to make a personal explanation. I call the honourable member for Sturt.

Mr HAYDEN (OXLEY, QUEENSLAND) - You will not get the Bill through tonight.

Mr Wilson - So that the Bill can be passed tonight I will raise the point during the adjournment debate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

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