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Thursday, 31 May 1973
Page: 3027

Mr KERIN (Macarthur) - As an ex-chicken farmer I have been very interested in the comments of the honourable member for Flinders (Mr Lynch). I am pleased to advise him that quite recently I took to the Minister for Primary Industry (Senator Wriedt) a delegation of all the State's broiler growers. We are looking at quite a few areas very seriously. The honourable member accurately described meetings which have taken place on the Mornington Peninsula. I was also very interested in the remarks of the honourable, member for Forrest (Mr Drummond), who referred to the future of the smaller ports around Australia. I am quite sure that eventually he will be told what we are being told about the problems of the Conference lines and concurrent loading. At some of the small ports a lot of cargo can be picked up but it is very hard to get much cargo to put down at them. With the advent of objective measurement of wool there is a good case to say that we will be able to assemble large parcels of wool at some ports. However, this will be over a period of only four or five months a year and cargo loading is given no continuity.

I want to speak tonight about some basic philosophical issues. There are 2 rather large elements in .the debate that is constantly waged between the major parties in this House. One view is that we need a larger economic cake to look after the people in our society who are least able to cope with their problems. Our side wants to redistribute the cake. Both arguments have a great degree of validity. The Church of England Diocese of Sydney has stated in a report that about 2,215,000 people are living in poverty. This is rather a crushing indictment of our society. The figure, calculated by the Reverend Peter Hollingworth, is the sum of a statistical breakdown of the under-privileged into numerous categories - civilian and service pensioners, unemployed, chronically ill, widows and single parents and many thousands of families whose total income from gainful occupation or from assistance schemes is below $50 to $60 a week. The extensive activities of the Church of England in alleviating human distress make it a competent witness to talk about the nature, degree and causes of poverty. A further report recently issued showed that one in five of Sydney's inner city primary school pupils is mentally disturbed; one in 10 is not getting enough to eat; and one in 12 is poorly clothed. These are the figures that I say make a shocking indictment of our society. It is the reason why honourable members on this side of the House say that we must redistribute the cake, as a basic philosophical point.

I would like now to refer to something closer to my electorate; that is the activities of the Wollongong branch of the Smith Family. This year the Smith Family will be looking after about 7,000 people in that area. Those people are helped when in a crisis situ ation and are not those who are sometimes termed 'professional bludgers'. They are people in a crisis situation and in dire need. I will cite some of the figures illustrating the activities of the Smith Family in a period of 6 months from December 1972 to May 1973. The figures are as follows: New cases 258; number of adults 1602; number of children 2373, making the total number of persons helped 3975. The composition of the cases in the area is as follows: Deserted wives 335; unemployed 193; people on sickness benefits 51; husbands in gaol 11; temporary crises 174; pensioners 302; unmarried mothers 64; advice only needed 273; referrals from other agencies 28; home visits by Smith Family welfare officers 111; migrants 870; food parcels as family hampers 206; food parcels as small hampers 98; clothing issued 694 families; furniture issued to 86 families; and food vouchers for perishables issued to the value of $146.

The Smith Family organisation meets crisis situations. A while ago I was lucky enough to get $87,000 for a nursing home in Bowral to look after about 26 additional people. While I do not knock that, I point out that because an agency was set up to help people who need social welfare $87,000 was obtained for 26 people. The Smith Family, which will look after something like 7,000 people this year, would give its back teeth to get its hands on even $5,000 in the present situation. The Smith Family in Wollongong runs a white elephant auction every Saturday at which it sells off the goods people donate to it. In this way it is cutting down its overdraft. But virtually it leads a hand to mouth existence going from one week to the next trying to get enough money to help those people in a crisis situation. This is why I say, just getting back to the basic philosophical point that I raised, that we must redistribute the cake.

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