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Tuesday, 8 March 1966

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Social Services) - In the last few months considerable Press publicity has been given to statements by members of the Opposition claiming that poverty exists in the Australian community. The provisions of the Social Services Act are determined in such a way as to relieve every member of the Australian community from the position of being in economic want. The range of social service benefits enables all people who' are in a position of acute economic need to be provided f ot by the State. Prior to the budgetary deliberations each year the Department of Social Services reviews the whole field of benefits payable by the Government. It investigates the needs of bene,ficiaries receiving benefits and those people who might become eligible for benefits. In making its recommendations the Department takes all relevant factors into account. On this basis the Government then determines what percentage of the national Budget should be allocated to the National' Welfare Fund and, in particular,'- to social services.

I understand that the Institute of Applied Economics of the University, of Melbourne is currently making a survey of the economic conditions of some members of the community residing in the inner City of Melbourne. I do not know whether a Government department would be the suitable body to make such a survey, but I feel that this type of survey is more suited to an academic institution, where studies may be made in an academic fashion, removed from the active field of politics enabling an accurate assessment of the situation to be made. I feel that any detailed survey of poverty, if such a condition exists in the Australian community, should be made through an academic institution. The Government regularly examines the position of those who are in need but not in such a way that the results of the examination would be suitable for release to the members pf this. House or to the Australian public.

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