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Wednesday, 21 November 1973
Page: 1952

Senator JESSOP (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social

Security. I refer to the recent decision by the Government to pay a special benefit of up to $23 a week to pregnant unmarried girls under 16 years of age. Can the Minister give me an estimate of the number of girls who would be in this category each year and the anticipated annual cost involved in paying this benefit? Is this an open-ended handout? If so, as this undoubtedly will encourage promiscuity among young girls, will the Minister ask his colleague in another place to give consideration to restricting this benefit to one such pregnancy?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am unable to anticipate the number of unmarried girls under 16 years of age who will be pregnant in the next financial year, or the cost of paying a benefit. I doubt whether any other senator is able to do that. This policy, as enunciated by my colleague the Minister for Social Security, is in line with the humane policy that has been adopted by this Government of protecting and assisting those who, through unfortunate circumstances, are the victims of society. We have set out to adopt a humane policy right across the board in regard to social security arrangements. This generally is a policy that is admired and respected by the Australian community.

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