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Thursday, 19 November 1959

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta) (Attorney-General) . - I am alive to this problem. I have looked at the statistics and I notice that, peculiarly enough, in Victoria there is a very noticeable increase in the number of women who are claiming social services because they cannot recover from husbands who have cleared out. I have it in mind to discuss with the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) as soon as I can, along with one or two other matters, the possibility of devising some means of both protecting the revenue and of aiding those folk. The honorable member for Lang is quite right in thinking that the provision we are debating extends strictly only to alimony - that is to say, to the maintenance of a divorced wife. The question of the maintenance of a merely deserted wife who is not seeking divorce is left entirely to the States. We have no means of controlling the States in relation to the sort of provision they may make. However, I am hopeful that if the garnishee provision in this bill becomes effective it will induce the States to pass legislation in respect of deserted wives and children, which will include this form of enforcement and thereby greatly ease the position as it is now.

Mr Stewart - What about divorcees at the present time? Will they have any rights under this bill?

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK - Yes, they will. There is a provision that all the existing orders can be enforced as if they were made under this bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 78- (1.) In proceedings with respect to the custody, guardianship, welfare, advancement or education of children of a marriage -

(a)   the court shall regard the welfare of the children as the paramount consideration; and

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