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Wednesday, 23 March 1966

Mr SINCLAIR - The answer to the first part of the honorable member's question is " Yes ". The answer to the second part is that the responsibility is a State one. I come now to the third part. I think that the honorable member will be aware that for many years the Commonwealth has regarded its primary responsibility as that of looking after those people in the community who are more or less permanently in the situation of a deserted wife. When a wife is deserted initially, there is usually some uncertainty about whether there is any possibility of the husband becoming reconciled and the family unit being returned to its normal state. The Commonwealth does not provide assistance until six months after desertion because at that stage the situation that has been arrived at is usually one that can be regarded as being permanent. In some States in which particular assistance is not given by the State authorities, the Commonwealth, it is true, provides assistance, but this does not remove these cases from a sphere that is primarily a State responsibility.

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