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Wednesday, 18 November 1959

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) .-I think that one of the logical things that the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) said was that, taking the extreme case of a woman who has been deserted and abandoned economically and who, with her two children, is in a desperate position, we might well shorten the period of time from two years. I was almost led by the observations of the honorable member for Blaxland to believe that the Attorney-General had brought in a measure to give financial aid to women who were so deserted. But this bill does not give any financial assistance. It does not solve the problem of a woman who has been abandoned with her children, unless there is another man who will come and take responsibility for the family. But these are extreme cases and to suggest that the proposal now before the committee will solve the problem of the deserted woman is not true. The Attorney-General says that he is presenting a balanced case. I do not believe that he is. I have been fascinated by his selection of illustrations. He has taken the case of a woman with two or more children who is deserted and completely abandoned without means of economic support. That is an extremely aggravated form of desertion and I think it would justify the existence of a separate clause altogether. This paragraph does not talk about women and it does not talk about men. It simply says this -

That, since the marriage, the other party to the marriage has, without just cause or excuse, wilfully deserted the petitioner for a period of not less than two years;

Honorable members have spoken about fathers who have been left with children by their wives. Some men in this position may wish to salvage the marriage. I think that the logical course of action by the honorable member for Blaxland is to fight the AttorneyGeneral because he is abolishing the New South Wales provision for the restitution of conjugal rights under which it is necessary to wait for only three weeks, whereas under this bill, it will be necessary to wait for a year. Though the AttorneyGeneral selected the case of a woman and suggested that somehow or other some kind of economic relief was being given through this clause, I still think that he failed to deal with the question of the facilitation of collusion. For that reason, I am not shaken by the case he has made.

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