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Wednesday, 27 May 1942

Senator KEANE (Victoria) (Minister for Trade and Customs) . - A de facto widow means a woman who, although not legally married, has been wholly or mainly maintained by a man with whom she has lived for a period of at least three years prior to his death. Senator Leckie asked what would happen if, instead of re-marrying, she prefers to live with another man who is not her husband. This matter is covered by clause 14 (1) b, which provides that a pension shall not be granted to a widow unless she is of good character and deserving of a pension.

Senator Leckie - In the case to which I referred the woman is already in receipt of a pension.

Senator KEANE - Such a woman would probably be regarded as an undesirable character. Clause 24 provides for the cancellation of a pension by the Commissioner or a Deputy Commissioner in certain circumstances. In my opinion there are ample safeguards. The case of a female divorcee is clear. A woman who is divorced, either because of her own fault or that of her husband, comes under clause 14 (1) b. If the Commissioner made inquiries with regard to her application, the reasons for her divorce would have to be divulged, and, if she were shown to be an undesirable character, her claim would not be favorably considered. The other aspect mentioned by Senator Leckie will be considered by the appropriate department. Senator Aylett referred to the case of a woman whose husband was imprisoned. That matter has been considered by the Government, and it was decided that such a woman would not come within the definition of widow. I shall have the matter brought to the notice of the Minister concerned, and it will be reconsidered. As to the case of a woman whose husband is an inmate of a sanatorium, and is unable to work, such a man is usually in receipt of an invalid pension. At the present time, and until July next, he will receive the institutional rate of 8s. 6d. a week, the balance of the pension being paid to the institution. But from the end of June, the whole of the amount will be paid to the individual whether he is in a sanatorium or not. No provision is made for the wife of such a man. The matter has been considered both in this chamber and in the House of Representatives, and I shall undertake to bring it to the notice of the responsible Minister.

Request agreed to.

Clause agreed to, subject to a request.

Clauses 5 to 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 (Qualification for pension).

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