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Monday, 22 April 1985
Page: 1284

Senator GILES —Can the Minister representing the Attorney-General inform the Senate whether the recent review of maintenance payments in Australia has been considered by the Government? Are any proposals being developed towards the establishment of a central collection agency?

Senator GARETH EVANS —It will be recalled that because of the Government's concern at the ineffectiveness of maintenance enforcement systems in most parts of Australia, I, as Attorney-General, established the National Maintenance Inquiry which looked comprehensively at the best systems in this country and overseas and made certain recommendations for the establishment of a national maintenance enforcement agency. The report of that inquiry was released for public comment on 7 February of last year and during the course of last year a great deal of discussion took place about it with a number of interest groups within the community that had various reactions to it.

The report recommended that a new independent agency be established and that the systems presently in place in South Australia and Western Australia, which have achieved substantial success, should be integrated with and not superseded by that agency. I am told that the Attorney-General, Mr Lionel Bowen, is now considering both the report and the public comments which have been received on the report and will be making recommendations to the Government in due course. I am unable to say what the time-table is on this matter, but I can assure the honourable senator that consideration of it is still very much alive.