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Wednesday, 21 October 1964

Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) . - I should like to pursue a matter raised by Senator Cavanagh, namely the non-payment, except in Victoria, of a pension to deserted wives during the first six months of their desertion. I understood from what the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) said that the Social Services Act declares that a deserted wife is not eligible to receive payment until a period of six months has expired. Every State, except Victoria, has made arrangements through the Department of Social Services to make payments in order to help deserted wives until the six months period is up. I should like the Minister to tell me the total annual amount involved in these payments.

Senator Anderson - Is the honorable senator referring to Victoria?

Senator MURPHY - Yes. I should like to know the amount that is paid in Victoria in respect of the period during which persons are apparently ineligible under the Social Services Act. Where is that amount disclosed in the Estimates? Will the Minister tell me where the terms of the arrangement that was entered into some years ago can be inspected? Will he tell me the parties who entered into the arrangement? Were the other States parties to the arrangement? Did the State of New South Wales or the State of South Australia agree that its residents were not to receive these amounts, although the residents of the State of Victoria would be entitled to receive them before six months had elapsed?

Would the Minister tell me what the legislative authority is for this arrangement? If, as I understand it, and 1 am open to correction, the Parliament has stated in the Act that persons are not eligible to receive payments except in certain circumstances and until a certain period has elapsed, how is it that people in one State alone are nevertheless paid in a manner which, as it has been slated here, is not in accordance with the Act? Where is the legislative power for the payments to be made under this arrangement?

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