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Wednesday, 18 November 1959

Mr LUCHETTI (Macquarie) .- Mr. Chairman,the virtues of marriage guidance need no emphasis in this committee. But I think that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) is quite right in directing attention to this matter. In the fields of human relations and public welfare, those organizations which grow from goodness itself, which are established in communities for the purpose of helping people, and which grow in this field of activity as we have seen various organizations grow, perform outstanding service for the community. But there is always a danger where an artificial organization grows up and has bestowed upon it the blessing of the government by the distribution of public moneys.

The honorable member for Moreton is afraid of well-meaning busy-bodies, and I think that the Attorney-General has a duty to heed the kindly comment - if one does not describe it as criticism - offered by the honorable member. However, I should like to go further and develop the thought suggested by the Attorney-General that established organizations be afforded an opportunity to continue to serve the community by providing the services that they have been performing over the years and are performing now. Who does this class of work? It is done by the local clergyman, the parish priest, the local minister, the padre and the captain in the Salvation Army. It is not surprising, therefore, that we have received circulars from a number of organizations such as the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence, the Catholic Family Welfare Bureau, the Citizens Welfare Service - through its director of social work and research - and the Red Cross Welfare Service, seeking amplification of information on this matter.

I think that the Attorney-General should try to give the committee a clearer outline of what is intended. The substitution of the term " the major " for the term " a substantial " in paragraph (b) of sub-section (2.) has been explained by the Minister, but is there any real reason why the expression " a substantial " should not remain? Let us take the church organizations, which have other activities of first importance. The term " a substantial " would meet their case. The local minister of a Church devotes much of his activity to family welfare, marriage guidance and a variety of other matters, including care of the needy and the promotion and conduct of Sunday schools. All these are important activities, and I think the point is being stressed much too heavily if he is to be required to perform the major part of his duties in marriage guidance work in order to attract Government support. I believe, therefore, that we should appreciate the fact that marriage guidance workers such as the heads of Churches in various communities, of necessity, devote their time to a variety of other activities. I think it would be entirely wrong to require them to devote the major part of their time to marriage guidance work in order to obtain government support in this work.

I can only hope that the Minister's explanation is sound and that his proposal will meet the situation. To my mind, as a layman unskilled in the words of the law, the proposed wording does not clearly state the position. We can only trust that the Attorney-General will be followed by a succession of well-meaning Ministers who will look at the matter in the sympathetic way in which, perhaps, the committee and the Attorney-General look at it now. If the Minister has anything further to say that would assist honorable members in arriving at a better appreciation of what is involved, I should be delighted to hear from him again.

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