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Wednesday, 22 August 1973
Page: 219


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I requested the Serjeant-at-Arms to ask the honourable member for Paterson to come back into the chamber. The reason is that the honourable member had come into the House when a quorum had 'been called and then left the precincts of the House.


Mr HAYDEN - The Delivered Meals Subsidy Act, which was introduced in 1970, assists the establishment, expansion, improvement and maintenance of Meals on Wheels services by providing a subsidy on the basis of 15c for every meal delivered to aged or invalid people by an eligible organisation during the previous calendar year. Originally the subsidy was paid at the rate of 10c per meal but, in view of rising food costs, amending legislation was passed last October to increase the rate of subsidy to 15c per meal. Payment at the increased rate commenced in January of this year and applied to all eligible meals served since 1 January 1972. The 1972 Amending Act also introduced an additional subsidy of 5c per meal, making a total subsidy of 20c, for organisations which undertook to include with each meal appropriate types and quantities of fresh fruit or fruit juice with a high vitamin C content. The legislation now before the House further increases the rates of subsidy from 20c to 25c for each meal with which an approved vitamin C supplement is provided and from 15c to 20c for all other eligible meals.

The additional subsidy of 5c per meal will help to meet the increased costs of food and enable organisations to continue to maintain their charges to recipients at a reasonable level. The next annual payment of delivered meals subsidy will fall due in January 1974 and will cover meals served during the calendar year which ends on 31 December 1973. The Bill provides that payment at the increased rate will commence in January 1974 and apply to all eligible meals served since 1 January 1973.

The Bill also provides that after the next annual payment, to which I have referred, all future payments of subsidy will be made on a quarterly basis. This measure is prompted by the knowledge that the financial affairs of most Meals on Wheels organisations are conducted on a 'hand-to-mouth' basis. In other words whilst the annual totals of their receipts and payments may be quite substantial their financial reserves are usually relatively small. As a consequence they may accumulate considerable debts, or have to arrange overdrafts, whilst waiting for their next annual grant under this Act. This situation will be remedied in future by means of the quarterly grants that this Bill provides. In effect it will mean that after receiving their next annual grant in January 1974, based on the meals served during 1973, organisations will receive a further payment in April 1974 based on the meals served from 1 January to 31 March and payment every quarter thereafter.

Partly as a result of the 1972 amendment, expenditure under the Delivered Meals Subsidy Act rose from $337,582 in 1971-72 to $586,777 in 1972-73. For the information of honourable members I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing the growth of the subsidy payments in each State.







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