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Wednesday, 3 June 1970

Mr JACOBI (Hawker) - There are several aspects of the Bill on which 1 seek an explanation from the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth). Within my electorate is the Ashford House School for Cerebral Palsied Children. I take this opportunity of recording my admiration and profound respect for the extremely valuable work done by the staff for the handicapped children, particularly in seeking their ultimate rehabilitation.I draw the Minister's attention to Part III of the Bill and clause 11 which reads:

(b)   the Director-General is satisfied that the equipment is to be used by handicapped children receiving approved training or is to be used otherwise for or in connexion with the provision of approved training, the Director-General may, in his discretion, approve that equipment for the purposes of this Part.

Does the word 'equipment' in this context include the purchase of buses and educational aids such as books, films, furnishings and orthopaedic aids? I should think that the answer is obvious in respect of books, films, furnishings and orthopaedic aids, but what is the situation with regard to buses? 1 point out to the Committee that the Government's attitude is exactly the same in the sheltered workshops legislation. It never ceases to amaze me that whilst a goods carrying vehicle attracts a Commonwealth subsidy, the Government does not pay a subsidy for buses. The Ashford centre has 7 buses and is in dire need of 2 additional buses which would cost an estimated $7,500. The 7 buses have an average mileage of 50.000 miles per annum and the cost of running them is over $5,000 annually. As the Minister will know, patients are brought to the centre from most parts of the metropolitan area and. indeed, from as far afield as Elizabeth. The children from Elizabeth are obliged to be transported by taxis to Gepps Cross and then they are conveyed by bus to the Ashford centre. 1 put it to the Minister that it is completely unjust and illogical to continue this policy. I cannot foresee any logical argument, that could be advanced by the Minister as to why these centres and sheltered workshops should be denied a subsidy on the conveyance of patients. Many of the cerebral palsied or handicapped children come from low income families and it is of great assistance to them if the. children are conveyed by these buses. I should like the Minister to indicate whether buses will be covered by this clause. If his answer is in the negative, will the Government reconsider this aspect?

Clause 15 of the Bill states:

Grants under this Act are payable out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of this Act.

I ask the Minister: ls it likely that a ceiling will be placed on the amount of money payable in any one year and, if so. will this result in a system of priorities? The other clause to which 1 draw the Minister's attention is clause 7(1.) which deals with the question of buildings and capital grants for buildings. The questions that I would ask the Minister are: In the case of the centre to which I am referring I ask the following question: If it is found necessary to sell the Ashford centre because of sheer economic need - in effect, no longer is the existing centre economically sound because of the cost of maintenance, alterations, renovations and the installation of expensive equipment, and the cost factor is prohibitive - or if the organisation sells the existing established centre in a high class residential area where land values are relatively high so making expansion extremely costly; or if the existing centre or unit were sold, would this money attract the $2 for $1 subsidy under the provisions of the Bill? Finally, if the centre then bought abandoned areas where homes or buildings have to be demolished will such excess costs of clearance and demolition attract the subsidy to cover this expenditure? In effect, what I am asking is: Will these four contingencies attract the subsidy within the provisions of the Bill?

Thursday, 4 June 1970

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