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Friday, 4 October 1912

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . - I give Senator St. Ledger every credit for sincerity, but it strikes me that in his speech, in moving his amendment, he was anxious to explain away his previous utterances.

Senator St Ledger - I have never flinched from one of them.

Senator NEEDHAM - The honorable senator was reported in the press fo have alleged that if this maternity, allowance were granted it would be " a sop to profligacy." Up to now he has not denied the accuracy of the report. But he has now made an ad misericordiam appeal. He tells us that the phrase he really used was "economic profligacy." I venture to say that in characterizing this grant as a sop to profligacy the honorable senator was hurling an insult at every woman in Australia. The amendment now before us simply means that if an unfortunate woman has been betrayed once she is to have no sympathy in the event of being betrayed a second time; and if she is to receive any assistance at all the money is to be handed over to some charitable institution which can be trusted. Senator St. Ledger cannot trust the National Government of Australia ; that is exactly what it means.

Senator St Ledger - That is a wilful perversion.

Senator NEEDHAM - If any other interpretation can be placed upon the amendment I shall be glad to hear it. I am prepared to trust the National Government of Australia every time, and think that it is just as safe a custodian of the money of the people as any other body in this country.

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