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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…]