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Wednesday, 18 November 1959


Mr TURNER (Bradfield) .- During the second-reading debate I made some references to this matter of marriage guidance, and I do not want to repeat them now. Having listened to the debate on this aspect of the bill, however, I feel that there is one simple point that should be made. It would have been better, I believe, if a provision to this effect had been included in the bill, but in any case I suggest that the Minister might consider presenting an annual report to Parliament, setting out the amounts of money that have been provided for marriage guidance services during the year, and giving the number of cases in which assistance was extended. Information could also be given concerning the extension of the service to country areas. The report might also set out the conditions laid down by the Minister in granting financial assistance to the various organizations, and it could give information as to the staffing position, such as the proportion of professional and nonprofessional persons employed. Finally, information could be provided as to how the various cases came before the organization - whether referred by a court or by some other means. Perhaps most important of all for the Parliament, an analysis could be given of the causes of break-down of marriages, and perhaps also the circumstances in which the marriages were contracted in the first instance. Such an analysis might give a clue to remedies that could possibly be applied.

In the course of this debate some honorable members have claimed, for example, that bad housing conditions have been a predisposing cause of marriage failures. This may or may not be the case, but I do suggest that the kind of analysis the Minister might prepare, by collating the reports of the various organizations that will be submitted to him from year to year, might give some clue as to whether bad housing conditions do tend to contribute towards marriage failures, and might indicate something that the Parliament can do about it. In many cases, and perhaps in most cases, the Parliament may not be able to do anything, but some analysis would be valuable, and I believe the bill would have been a better one if it had included a requirement that the Minister table a report annually. If it is not possible to introduce such a provision now, either here or in another place, then at least I feel that the members of the Parliament should ask the Minister from time to time to make a report on these matters, and I hope that he will be willing to do so.







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