I think most Senators will agree that the White Paper circulated in conjunction with the Bill makes the contents of the Bill very clear. At least, it made the contents clearer to me, as I do not mind confessing that I am puzzled and confused by the multiplicity of the Army Pensions Bills, Defence Forces Bills and Military Service Pensions Bills. There are only two or three things of importance in this Bill. One of its chief purposes is to provide new rates of pensions for officers and soldiers disabled by would or injury after the passing of this Bill. The position with regard to ex-soldiers totally disabled is, even after the passing of this Bill, rather peculiar and will not be fully rectified until there is another Bill in the autumn. There was a rate of 26/- a week under one of the earlier Acts—the Act of 1927, I think—for people totally disabled. During the emergency, there was another Bill, operated only for the period of the emergency, which gave 42/- a week. Since the emergency, we are back at the old scale of 26/- a week. In the meantime, the workmen's compensation rates were altered so as to give 50/-to people totally disabled. This Bill brings the rates up to 50/- for people totally disabled, from the passage of this Bill onwards, but still leaves under the other Bill a rate of 42/- in one case and 26/- in another. Those rates will be equated to these rates, under the Bill which will be introduced in the autumn.
Another matter of importance in which Senators will be interested is that this Bill reopens and extends for six months from the date of passage of the Bill the period during which persons can apply for medals, with the allowance attached to the medals. The date had already passed and this Bill extends the date for six months from the date of the passage of the Bill. The Bill also applies the Army pension schemes to nurses and First Line Reserve and takes power to prepare a scheme to apply it to the Second Line Reserve. Up to this, in the case of pensioners, allowances were given for children only up to the number of four. This removes every limitation and the allowances can be given for the full number of children.
There was no power heretofore to restore a pension that was forfeited because of a court sentence. Power is being taken under this Bill for the appropriate Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, to restore a forfeited pension, that is, an Army pension that was forfeited because of a sentence in a civil court. There still remain people who forfeited their military service pensions and similar power will be taken in the Bill to be introduced next October to restore forfeited military service pensions.
If there are any points on which any Senator wants further information, I will endeavour to give it to him.