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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2514

Mr Ian Robinson (COWPER, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Australian Country Party supports Social Services Bill (No. 3). In fact, it is very strongly in favour of the benefits that will be given to supporting mothers. I think that the second reading speech of the Minister for Social Security (Mr Hayden) detailed this matter adequately. There are, however, one or two aspects of the legislation which I think should be mentioned and to which I would like to draw the attention of the Minister. Firstly, I refer to the problem that can arise in the case of people referred to as unmarried mothers. The term in simplicity of course would seem quite all right, but the wording continues: including deserted de facto wives and de facto wives of prisoners'. I think that these areas of need must be recognised. But there is equally a need to protect sections of the community that can perhaps be nurtured in a way detrimental to their interests and to the interests of the whole community in which they live.

I want to refer to a case in my electorate of a very young unmarried Aborigine who now has given birth to her eighth child. There has been concern in the local community where this person lives as well as in the local hospital. Concern has also been expressed by local welfare workers and a host of other people. I think that by citing this one instance I might suggest to the Minister that care should be taken to ensure that whilst on the one band we are extending a necessary benefit, on the other hand we must try to devise some mechanism that will ensure that advantage is not taken by people in a certain category, and I am not in any way implying that I want to place some people in one category and others in another category. But I believe that there is an inherent problem that there will be those who can see an opportunity to gain by merely taking advantage of what we provide by way of a special benefit.

I think that what I have said is sufficient to draw attention to this problem without dwelling upon it or laying emphasis on it, which is perhaps an equally wrong thing to do in this Parliament. It is a matter which I might submit to the Minister in more detail in writing. The other provisions which we are dealing with I think are timely. The honourable member for Corangamite (Mr Street) raised the matter of the widower and I think that this is worthy of some consideration. Perhaps if the Minister is not able to see his way clear to support immediately the amendment that will be introduced by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) this afternoon he could indicate to the House that serious consideration will be given to the amendment when the Bill comes before the other place. In one way or the other this very vexed question is perhaps deserving of more consideration than some of the other matters that have been raised. Like other honourable members, I have had widowed constituents coming along to me with their problems and showing quite clearly the difficulties they encounter in caring for a large family. I have been unable to secure the benefits that those constituents received to which they were entitled. There is a real disparity between a supporting widow and the situation that exists in the case of a widow.

I think the other machinery proposals - concessions for radio broadcasting licences and television viewers' licences - are matters which should normally apply in cases of this kind. Therefore we support them without question. The provisions of hearing aids to an added bracket of beneficiaries is a very worthy measure. I am sure that those honourable members who have had approaches from their constituents on this matter have found from time to time that they are in fringe areas excluded from the existing legislation and that there is a great need to extend the legislation. I am pleased to see this action being taken.

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