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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Senator LAMP (Tasmania) .- [ congratulate the Government upon introducing this humanitarian measure. [ have upon my book-shelf a book entitled Equality. On the cover is shown an employer interviewing two prospective female employees, a woman and a girl. The woman says to the employer, "Employ me, Oh master, for I am cheaper than the man". The girl says, "Employ me, Oh master, because I am cheaper than them both ". I have firsthand knowledge of the economic pressure exerted upon the widows of this country. My sister was left a widow with two children when she was quite a young girl. [ know the trials that she had to endure in one of the biggest cities of Australia in order to provide for her children. I know that the worry and trouble which confronted her in her struggle to make a living prematurely aged her.

Senator McBridehas stated, and rightly so, that some provision should be made for spinsters on reaching the age of 50. There is another class of females still more worthy of government assistance, namely, the wives of men who are permanent inmates of sanatoria. Surely, some provision should be made for them. This measure provides assistance for a wife who is deserted by her husband. Women in the class I have just mentioned are in a far more dimcult position. They are not deserted by their husbands. Their husbands are compulsorily confined in various institutions, and, in very many cases, the wives have to contribute towards the upkeep of their husbands in those institutions. Take, for instance, a man who has broken his back and is permanently confined to his bed in a hospital. The claims of this class of wives should be considered with a view to providing some assistance for them. The Government should also consider the claims of widows of Australian soldiers who married in England. At present, the widows of such soldiers may claim a sum of £32 10s. a year in addition to the pension of 25s. a week, but only after they have been resident in Australia for five years. That is most unjust. I intend to deal with these matters when the bill is in the committee stage. I whole-heartedly support the measure.

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