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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne PortsMinister for Social Services and Minister for Health) .- In reply to the honorable member for Melbourne (Mr. Calwell), I must say it is very disappointing, not only to members of the Government, but also to the members of the Joint Committee on Social Security, to find that our efforts to improve the lot of persons on the lowest rung of the social ladder are being frustrated by the action of some States in withdrawing the assistance which they had hitherto been giving to those persons, simply because the Commonwealth has made some additional benefits available to them. The last Government, when it introduced child endowment, made it clear that the benefit was to be regarded as something in addition to anything which the recipients had been getting. The main argument in support of child endowment was that something should be done to assist the larger families which were not adequately provided for by the basic wage. State governments had been in the habit of making small grants to orphanages and to destitute families, and it was intended that the Commonwealth child endowment scheme should be something over and above what the States were already doing. Therefore, it is disappointing to find that our efforts are being stultified by the withdrawal of State grants to charitable institutions. What we are to do about it I do not know. Wecannot dictate to the States what they shall do, but I think that this matter is an appropriate one to include in the agenda for the next Premiers Conference.

Mr Calwell - Action could be taken under regulations.

Mr HOLLOWAY - That is a matter for the Attorney-General, and I do not wish to go into it now.

Mr Calwell - The Legislative Council in Victoria would throw out any State legislation designed to improve the position.

Mr HOLLOWAY -I know that, in many respects, the efforts of the Victorian Government are thwarted by the " Slaughter-house ", as the Legislative Council is termed.

Mr Calwell - The Government of Victoria would be pleased if the Commonwealth Government were to take action under appropriate regulations.

Mr HOLLOWAY - The Government of Victoria has control over charitable institutions. I, myself, have gone to State Treasurers and induced them to make available large sums of money to those institutions for the relief of unemployment. I regard the action of which the honorable member has complained as inhuman, and as representing an outlook which is very much out of date.

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