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Thursday, 30 April 1942

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne PortsMinister for Social Services and Minister for Health) . - by leave - I move -

That the bill he now read a second time.

I am privileged to introduce a bill designed to liberalize a statute which has been commended by individuals and organizations usually holding widely differing and frequently opposing political, economic, and social views. The Child Endowment Act, which has been in force for less than a year, has been almost universally applauded because of the very real permanent benefit it confers upon approximately 1,000,000 children representing some 500,000 families. As was to be expected, the actual administration of the act has revealed some deficiencies and inequalities which my Government has decided to remove. I shall not make a lengthy second-reading speech. My remarks in describing the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Bill earlier to-day apply with equal force and truth to the Child Endowment Bill. In the committee stage honorable members will have full opportunity to discuss each clause in detail, and full explanations will be given. The more important clauses of the bill extend child endowment to inmates of State institutions and provide for the payment of endowment to those childrenwho have been maintained from moneys forming part of the estate of a deceased person. Honorable members will be pleased that provision is made for children of families who have become separated for any reason.

Mr Calwell - Will any arrangements be made for the States to reimburse to the Commonwealth the savings that they will effect as the result of the extension of child endowment to inmates of State institutions? The State government? should be prevented from profiting by this measure.

Mr HOLLOWAY - There is nothing in this bill to cover that aspect, but wo can safely leave to the Treasurer (Mr. Chifley) the evolvement of some way to ensure that we shall receive from the States some quid pro quo. There has been some controversy as to what the previous Government intended in respect of divided families. This bill makes it clear that, provided that the general conditions of eligibility are complied with, the children of divided families shall be paid endowment. Cases have arisen of four or five children being cared for individually by different guardians. So far none of those children has been classed as eligible for child endowment, although, if they were together under the one guardianship, all, in excess of one, under the age of sixteen years, would receive endowment. These inequalities have caused great argument and trouble, which we propose to remove.

Sir Frederick Stewart - In such cases, which children would be eligible for endowment?

Mr HOLLOWAY - The bill provides that the Commissioner shall pay endowment to the person or persons whom he considers to be most eligible.

Mr Brennan - Is endowment not payable, to all children under the age of sixteen years?

Mr HOLLOWAY - The honorable member is anticipating the Widows Pensions Bill, under which it is proposed to pay child endowment in respect of all widows' children under sixteen years of age. Questionsas to the details of this measure will be better answered in committee. I commend the bill and ask for its prompt passage.

Debate (on motion by Sir Frederick Stewart) adjourned.

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