Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 5 September 1984
Page: 456


Senator PETER BAUME(11.19) —in reply-It is unfortunate that Senator Grimes's response has tended to be pursued as an ad hominem argument and with invective. The proposal to disallow and the motion to disallow were presented in measured and specific terms in relation to a specific judgment in a court, and the matters to which we have referred and on which we base the motion to disallow have not been addressed or answered by Senator Grimes. The problem is a problem of a fair go. As Senator Macklin said, it is a question of fairness as well as the law. It is a question of fairness which applies to well established nursing homes because they are forced to use a historical valuation for their assets and because there is no capacity to use current valuation. That is the problem in a nutshell.

We have been trying to respond to criticisms raised by Mr Justice Woodward, criticisms which are current and recent, and we have relied upon the judge's words in our motion and in the arguments which we put, and those matters raised by the judge were not addressed by Senator Grimes; they were not responded to, and he has chosen to ignore them. In trying to respond to the particular questions put by the Australian Democrats, he responded to the first question, as to some recent sales, whatever value that may be, but in relation to the Australian Democrats' other question, about definite proposals which might be advanced to resolve the problem by other means, all that Senator Grimes has proposed is that at some time in the future-'as soon as practicable'-without guarantee, the Government will do something, as yet unspecified, to overcome the problem.

The disallowance would encourage and hasten the Government. It would add resolution to its need to do something about the problem. If the motion for disallowance is not passed, let us be frank: The Government has no urgency in doing anything about this problem. It can sit back and put it into the never- never basket if it wishes so to do. The disallowance motion is not an argument for anarchy in the industry. It is not an argument seeking to discourage the elderly. It is not some sudden recognition, after a period in government, that these are bad guidelines. It is an attempt to respond to a court judgment by a senior justice in which he says that the regulations may be legal but they are not fair. Because they are unfair, we want to do something about them.

We have been asked why we are moving on this matter now. Every honourable senator knows how disingenuous Senator Grimes's argument was in that respect. We are moving now because this is our only possible opportunity to move, because this is subordinate legislation. It is subordinate legislation which has come before us now, and if we do not move now the Senate will never again have a chance to move for this disallowance. Further, if the disallowance is successful , the Government can, after the appropriate interval, come back with a new set of guidelines which will avoid the charge of unfairness which has been made in the court, and the Government could come back with new arrangements. Senator Grimes's response is inadequate to convince me that the Government is committed to overcoming the unfairness to which the judge referred. The disallowance will not prevent the Government taking action to correct that situation. It is an appropriate course to take, and I commend the motion to honourable senators.

Question put:

That the motion (Senator Peter Baume's) be agreed to.