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Wednesday, 6 May 1987
Page: 2687


Mr PORTER —I ask the Prime Minister: Despite his undertaking at Question Time last Friday, why is the Government accepting the Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision to pay married rate welfare benefits to young girls under the age of consent who establish de facto relationships? How does the Prime Minister justify this policy which provides a financial inducement to young girls to leave home and establish an illegal de facto relationship and so become eligible for a welfare benefit?


Mr HAWKE —I thank the honourable gentleman for his question. He ought to agree-I hope he will-that this is both a sensitive and a technical area. What has happened, if I may inform the honourable member, is that the Government has arranged for legal officers of the Department of Social Security to discuss the amendment in question with leaders of the parties in the Senate--


Mr Porter —I have agreed to go to a briefing as well, but that does not answer the problem.


Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Barker is not entitled to ask a supplementary question.


Mr HAWKE —The honourable member for Barker can wag his head and, if that gives him satisfaction, let him keep on doing it. I am simply saying to him that what we have done is arranged for legal officers of the Department to discuss the amendment in question with the leaders of the parties in the Senate to see whether we can find a resolution to this problem, the nature and dimension of which I recognise. We are going about this in a sensible manner. It is not a matter for hysteria and I hope that, as a result of the discussions that are being held with the leaders of the parties in the Senate, such a resolution can be reached.