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Wednesday, 27 September 1972
Page: 1225

Senator LITTLE (Victoria) - I wish to speak very briefly on the Bill. I do not wish to recount the statistics that have already been given. What has been said of the purposes of the Bill fits in with the general philosophy of the Australian Democratic Labor Party to which I belong. It is a step, as has been suggested by the Opposition, that perhaps may be overdue. That is a matter of opinion. The problem of looking after aged people has been a growing one for a considerable period of time. Probably the advance of medicine and many other of the related sciences has enabled us to prolong life beyond the point which was once known or expected. I believe that increased expectancy of life has caught modern day communities in general, and not necessarily in Australia alone, a long way behind in the provision of the sort of facilities which will prove the quality of life of this age group. This is particularly so because these people have reached the age at which they cannot depend on income from their own earnings but are dependent upon social services which are their right. We have found that there has been a general inability, particularly where ill health intervenes to cope with the problem of the magnitude that it has become because of the increasing numbers of people who now survive through to this age group. Therefore, rather than apportioning blame we prefer to suggest that, although it is high time that something was done, it is encouraging to see that we are stepping forward as a community to provide an improved quality of life for the people who come within this category and that we are doing this at the very essential levels of human life as we know it - that is to provide decent standards of homes and accommodation for them.

The Australian Democratic Labor Party has been known for one thing, if for no other: We have taken it to ourselves to fight for the establishment of a better quality of life, not from the cradle to the grave, but even before the cradle, to protect those who are not at that point of time able to protect themselves. In an age when there has been much thinking about the obvious problems, we feel that there are many things that the community ought to guarantee to society but which have been overlooked. Indeed, the stresses of public propaganda are being placed in areas which we feel will not improve the quality of life for anybody, and certainly not for everybody. Some of the easy and slick solutions to what may appear to be growing problem very often can create so much unhappiness, mental strain and terror that in themselves they are not cures at all but begin something that is far, far worse.

The legislation before us is in a step in the right direction. We applaud it for what it is. We indicate our wholehearted support for this measure. However, we do not feel that by any means it is the end of the road. As long as mankind is able to lift his standards, improve his knowledge and increase his efficiency we will never reach the end of the road. I believe that we are doing something that has never been done before in the history of man. I believe that the vision splendid that lies before us can be enormous as we gradually correlate all our forces to head in the one direction. This is a non-political matter and we would not engage in any way in making politics out of it. Any government which brings forward a step which is in the right direction gets praise and wholehearted support from the Australian Democratic Labor Party. My Party and I support the legislation.

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