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Archives for February 1973

Whitlam Government Increases Pensions, Unemployment And Sickness Benefits

One of the first legislative acts of the Whitlam government in 1973 was to increase social security benefits.

On February 28, 1973, the Minister for Social Security, Bill Hayden, introduced the Social Services Bill 1973 into the House of Representatives.

The bill sought to increase all pensions and unemployment and sickness benefits by amounts ranging from $1.50 to $14.00 a week. Hayden said the cost of the measures would be $126 million in a full year.

This is Social Security Minister Bill Hayden’s Second Reading Speech on the Social Services Bill 1973.

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (Minister for Social Security) – I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

HaydenThe Bill provides for generous increases in all pensions and in unemployment and sickness benefits by amounts ranging from $1.50 a week to $14 a week. Furthermore it provides for payment of the pension increases to be made retrospectively from and including the first pay day for each category of pension occurring after the election of this Government. The cost of these proposals, and others benefiting dependants which I shall outline a little later, will be $126m in a full year and $66.2m for this financial year.

This Bill provides a common benefit rate for all pensions and for unemployment and sickness benefits of $21.50 a week standard rate and $37.50 a week married rate. In doing this it removes several seriously unjust, penalising anomalies. This Bill has promptly honoured the undertaking of the Prime Minister made when he delivered the policy speech of the Australian Labor Party. He said then: [Read more…]

Bill To Lower Voting Age To 18: Fred Daly Second Reading Speech

One of the Whitlam government’s first legislative acts was to introduce a bill to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

The Minister for Services and Property, Fred Daly, introduced the Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1973 at 3.30pm on February 28, 1973. It was debated and passed in both houses over the next two weeks, receiving bipartisan support. It received Royal Assent on March 16, 1973.

This is the bill:


Second Reading Speech by Fred Daly on the Commonwealth Electoral Bill 1973.

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) – I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

DalyThe purpose of this Bill is to bring forward legislation to lower the franchise age and the age of candidature to 18 years for Federal elections. At present, the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides that persons who are not under the age of 21 years are entitled to have their names placed on. the roll and, when enrolled, to vote at elections for sena tors and for members of the House of Representatives. However, under a special provision, a member of the defence forces serving in a war zone outside Australia, who is under 21 years of age, is entitled to vote at a Federal election.

This is an historic occasion – an occasion, Mr Speaker, too long delayed. This Government when in Opposition endeavoured to extend the democratic right of the franchise to the youth of Australia. Private members Bills were introduced into both Houses of the Parliament in 1968 and 1970 and debated at some length. The Liberal-Country Party Government declined to bring these Bills to a vote. It preferred to deny this well recognised democratic right to an important section of the Australian community – the youth of this country – although the franchise for those 18 years and above is well recognised throughout the world. I am delighted that the privilege of introducing these historic measures – of rectifying this denial of natural justice – has fallen to me and that it is one of the first legislative acts of this Parliament. For me it is a proud and significant moment. After many years in Parliament and in Opposition I am indeed honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) to present this, the first legislative proposal of the new Government, in the first session of the 28th Parliament. [Read more…]

Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck Opens The 28th Parliament

The Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck opened the 28th Parliament on February 27, 1973.

Hasluck presided over the first Parliament since 1949 with a Labor government. The Governor-General’s speech contained a number of historic announcements of legislative programs from the Whitlam government.

The announcements included the abolition of university fees, the introduction of universal health insurance, the lowering of the voting age to 18, independence for Papua New Guinea, the introduction of the Schools Commission and federal responsibility for Aboriginal disadvantage.

Hasluck was a former minister in the Liberal-Country Party government that Whitlam defeated.

  • Listen to highlights of Hasluck’s speech (5m – full text below)


Hansard transcript of Governor-General Sir Paul Hasluck’s speech opening the 28th Parliament.

Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives:

Following the clear decision of the people of Australia at the elections for the House of Representatives on 2nd December 1972 and acting upon advice, I commissioned the Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party to form a new Government on 5th December 1972. My new advisers have proceeded with all possible speed to act upon the mandate for change which they are firmly convinced was bestowed upon them by the people of Australia in the House of Representatives elections. My advisers will now ask this Parliament – itself the fundamental means by which the will of the people can be expressed – to pass legislation embodying the central parts of the program which the people have instructed them to implement. [Read more…]