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Wednesday, 4 March 1970

There have been a number of separate stages in our total plan and, although they have been referred to before, they are important enough for me to repeat them here. The first and highly important stage was the identification of and action to deal with a number of areas of need with special high priority.

These special areas and the action taken by the Government were: For handicapped children - payment of a new benefit which, in little more than a year since its introduction, has substantially assisted over a thousand less fortunate children in our community; for those suffering long-term and chronic illnesses - security against the cost of hospital treatment for an unlimited period; for nursing home patients who require intensive care - that is, about 40% of all nursing home patients - substantial additional assistance which amounted to no less than $ 14.5m in the first calendar year since its introduction; for the provision of assistance to frail aged members of our community - the availability of substantial grants to the States.

The second stage in our plan was the setting up of the Nimmo Committee of Enquiry with the object of securing authoritative, independent advice on the best means of introducing a comprehensive, thoroughly investigated, health benefits plan.

The next stage was the examination by the Government of the Nimmo report and the decision to urgently introduce an entirely new programme of assistance to families on low incomes.

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