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Wednesday, 13 May 1942

Senator ALLAN MacDONALD (Western Australia) . - Before the Senate adjourns, I should like to direct the attention of the Minister representing the Treasurer (Senator Keane) to an anomaly, the particulars of which I have just received from Mrs. Cardell-Oliver, M.L.A., the member for Subiacein the

Western Australian Parliament, and a representative of many women's organizations in that State. The communication deals with the payment of child endowment, especially under the recent amendment of the Child Endowment Act, whereby the parent who contributes the major portion of the sustenance of the children receives the endowment. In the case I am going to cite, I do not think it is the intention of the Government to create such an anomaly. A man deserted his wife and children three years ago. He was not located for six months, when the wife obtained a separation order on the grounds of cruelty and wilful neglect to provide maintenance for his children. A court order was made for £2 a week for the children only, as the wife did not ask for anything on her own behalf. The husband promptly disappeared again until the maintenance order was about £80 in arrears, when he started to make his weekly payments fairly regularly. Acting on advice, the wife decided that regular payments at the time were better than no money and her husband in gaol for arrears. Last year the husband was divorced on the ground of adultery, the wife was given custody of the children, and the £2 a week order stood.

The endowment was granted to the wife in July last. It was 10s. a week for two children. Last month she was advised that the endowment payments had been stopped pending investigations. The department had received all particulars of the case when the application was made. Last week she received notice that, because of an amendment to the Child Endowment Act, the husband would have to be paid the 10s. a week, as he was contributing the largest proportion of the £1 towards the children's maintenance - £2 weekly for the three children, at 13s. 4d. each. Therefore, it seems to me that because this man has been found guilty by the State law of neglecting to provide for his children, and of committing adultery, the Federal Government intends to help him to evade his obligations, and that the children will be deprived of the extra benefits this 10s. a week would give to them. I draw the attention of the Minister for Trade and

Customs (Senator Keane) to this matter, because I think it constitutes a glaring anomaly and requires immediate adjustment. I appeal to him to consult the Treasurer with a view to having prompt action taken, because the anomaly will affect women throughout Australia and is becoming a burning question among women's organizations.

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