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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 108


Senator McLUCAS (4:54 PM) —I have a couple of points. I just want to clarify for the minister the intent of the first amendment. It says:

The Aged Care Minister must set by determination the way in which the levels of care services required by residents are to be assessed.

The purpose of that amendment is to make it absolutely plain that it is not the Australian Taxation Office that will be making that determination; it will be with the right department—that is, the aged care section of the Department of Health and Ageing—through the aged care minister. That is the reason we have made that amendment. The ATO might be fine at devising tax law—and there is probably a question about that, given that we are four years down the track and still cleaning up the GST—but the purpose of that first amendment is to make it very plain that it is in the purview of the aged care minister according to, in this case, her reading of the determination, so that that is the right place for the assessment to occur, not in the ATO.

It is not an eleventh-hour amendment. The sector has been calling for this sort of clarification for a long time and I think it is quite inappropriate to be saying that we will be delaying this legislation. We are aware more than you and your side of politics that the retirement village sector has been calling for this clarification for a long time. There is plenty of time between now and tomorrow afternoon to deal with this matter. I urge the government to look more closely at the amendments that Labor are proposing. I suggest that the first one exactly clarifies the concerns that you have raised.