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Thursday, 24 May 1973
Page: 2590


Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) - I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The past Liberal Government concentrated its social service policy on relieving pockets of greatest need and hardship, and as that was progressively done obviously the next steps would have related to other groups where perhaps more people were involved, although the hardship might not have been so intense as that experienced by the aged and sick who had received relief through past policy.

I believe that now we have come to one of these greater and more important groups. I refer particularly to the young married couples and especially to the position of young married couples on the birth of the first child. At this stage, as honourable members will know, it very often happens that the 2 incomes which have been coming into the household are reduced to one at the very time when household expenses tend to increase and at a time probably when the fixed commitments that these young people have on their homes and for other capital goods still continue to press upon them. I will not go into the details of this at present because I do not have time to do so. But honourable members will realise that because of many causes - and I do not want to say that these are good or bad, but simply to record what has happened - over recent decades the position of the young married couple with a child has deteriorated in the community. This has not been a deterioration perhaps in absolute terms but it certainly is the case in the comparative terms which are important to so many people.

I, as a Minister in the past Government, commissioned Professor Henderson to undertake an inquiry into the various forms of poverty in Australia. I would not be surprised if when that report is issued it is found that among the people who are suffering most there are many of these young couples whom we would consider to be almost in a normal situation but who have family responsibilities which they find difficult to maintain. These people are not in an extraordinary situation. Many of them would be generally considered to be among the normal run of people. As I said, I do not intend to go into the details of why this is happening. I simply say that if honourable members look around their own electorates, friends, acquaintances and families they will know from their own experience many examples of the kind of situation to which I am referring.

I do not want to suggest for one moment that we should tolerate economic circumstances in which a wife with a young child is compelled against her will to take paid employment away from the home. I think this is socially bad. 1 believe it is one of the real problems to which we should be directing our attention. I am sure that we on this side of the House - and I hope I will be supported by honourable members on the other side in this regard - will be looking to raise the standards of living of these people whom one would almost regard-


Mr Martin - 1 rise on a point of order and to seek some guidance. My point of order is that there does not appear to be any definition in the Bill of a young couple.


Mr WENTWORTH - Oh!


Mr Martin - No, I am quite serious. This is the first time that I have seen the Bill and I cannot find in it any definition of a young couple.







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