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Thursday, 30 April 1987
Page: 2337

Mr PORTER(8.31) —I make a couple of points in response to the reply of the Minister for Social Security (Mr Howe) to the points made by the Opposition. If the Minister is concerned about the actual wording of the amendment, there are two courses which he could follow. Firstly, he could propose an amendment of his own to omit the particular proposed sub-section from the Bill. We would be quite happy to support that. Secondly, I would be happy to move, or support him in moving, that we report progress and that this Bill does not proceed any further until he seeks further advice. It appears that he wants to seek further advice to ensure that the legislation does not do exactly what we say it does. We will certainly assist him in that regard if he is prepared not to put the Bill through tonight. But we will not support the legislation as it is currently drafted. Indeed, we will vote against the legislation as it is currently drafted and in favour of the amendment.

I make the point to the Minister that he seems not to understand that in legislating as he is in regard to this amendment he is providing a new entitlement.

Mrs Sullivan —For some people.

Mr PORTER —For some people, yes-by accepting a de facto relationship in a situation such as I described previously. I refer to a situation in which a man aged, say, 30 seduces a 13-year-old, and the Department accepts that as a de facto relationship. In my view the 13-year-old would not be entitled to any benefit, but the Minister will now pay a benefit to the man at the married rate. The Minister is not saving money; he is costing money. In fact, he is initiating a new benefit. That is in addition to all the other points we have put.

Mr Howe —This is unemployment benefit.

Mr PORTER —It does not really matter what benefit it is. The Minister is initiating a new benefit. He keeps saying that it is not the Government's intention. The law is the law is the law. It does not matter what the Minister's intention is; the law is clear and this legislation is quite clear. It will encourage and certainly provide succour to what are currently illegal arrangements. We are not prepared to support that. Unless the Minister is prepared to move an amendment to omit the proposed sub-section, or to report progress so that he can get further advice, we will vote in favour of the amendment and against this legislation.