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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3332

Senator SHEIL (Queensland) - I merely wish to speak on the Nursing Homes Assistance Bill which will authorise the Federal Government to enter directly into agreement with religious and charitable nursing homes to allow these nursing homes to operate at a loss with the Federal Government meeting these losses by so-called deficit financing. The Bill therefore is nothing more than an instrument for socialisation. It is a further example of the duplicity of this Government and of the fact that it is behaving in a contradictory fashion. I say it is an example of duplicity because it uses the plight of 'those in the community, particularly the aged who are in need of specialised care and treatment' to achieve its purpose. It is contradictory because this Bill will establish a system of openended government financing, the system which was used to vilify the voluntary health insurance funds in the Government's fight to socialise health. In addition, this Bill proposes direct financing of nursing homes thus by-passing the State health departments. This represents another attempt to weaken the authority of State governments with the eventual goal of their total destruction.

On top of those things, the Federal Government is trying to use religious and charitable institutions as an instrument to destroy the private nursing homes. It will do so, firstly, by allowing the religious and charitable nursing homes to operate at a loss and then picking up the tab, and secondly, by subsidising the religious and charitable institutions to buying the private nursing homes. This again is achieving the Federal Government's socialist policy by splitting the nursing home industry right up the centre. Having been in the business myself, I know that the subsidy the Government will have to provide will be an escalating subsidy. The Government eventually will squeal at the size of this subsidy and start a program of propaganda against these institutions, a program that will cause the taxpayers to kick against the churches. The people will be brainwashed to question these heavy subsidies. The churches will find that they have sold their souls and their freedom, and their nursing homes will be taken over by the Government. This is socialisation. The religious and charitable nursing homes pay no taxes, including payroll tax and sales tax, yet this Government proposes to allow them to charge no fees. Where will this leave the private nursing homes?

This is an iniquitous Bill. Its provisions will crush the private nursing homes and at the same time will swallow the religious and charitable nursing homes. The Bill ignores the views of the State Ministers for Health as expressed at their recent conference. It was their view that if any system of deficit funding was to be introduced it should be handled through the States. The Bill provides that all the work involved will be done by the Commonwealth. This will require an army of personnel, at tremendous cost to the taxpayer, to duplicate services already in existence and provided by the States. I refer to such things as inspections and licensing. Why have such an unnecessary and costly duplication started in 3 weeks? Why has this been allowed to come about when this Government already has the nation on its financial knees? Clause 12 refers to the agreement to be entered into 'by Australia and any proprietor', thus by-passing the States. The Bill seems to have been hastily prepared because clauses 4 and 35 appear to be contradictory. The responsibility, which includes matters relating to facilities and standards, will be transferred under this Bill from the Director-General of Health to the Permanent Head of the Department of Social Security who is not a medical officer. Clause 29 of the Bill would clearly overrule all State laws as it states:

.   . notwithstanding anything contained in a law of a State . . .

Under deficit funding, as proposed in clause 9, religious and charitable nursing homes will find that they are under strict control as to the provision of new beds although a nursing home may consider that new beds are necessary, the decision will no longer be one for it to make.

Under clause 11 it is proposed that approvals may be varied or revoked, all at the whim of the Permanent Head of the Department of Social Security. Under clause 1 7 the religious and charitable nursing homes will be subjected to committees of inquiry. These iniquitous committees of inquiry are the very same sorts of things that initiated the revolt of the general practitioners against socialised health schemes. How can the religious and charitable institutions be so naive as even to contemplate entering into an agreement of this nature with any government, especially this avowed and pledged socialist Government? They should abandon their altruistic principles of thinking that they are helping the poor and disadvantaged by offering the sacrifice of their personnel and patients to this socialist monster. It is a misdirection of the highest human emotions to enslave others through ignorance. The fiery fangs of the Federal Government are poised above them. They should resist the golden carrots that are dangled before them, drawing them and us nearer to our own entrapment.

Senator Cavanagh - Who wrote this?

Senator SHEIL - It is all my own work senator.

Senator Georges - I rise on a point of order. If it is the honourable senator's own work he surely ought to be able to refrain from reading it. It is becoming tedious. It is misrepresentation. He ought to be able to deliver his speech without continual reference to his notes. I suggest, Sir, that you advise the honourable senator that he is not supposed to read a speech in this place.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- I find that there is no point of order involved.

Senator SHEIL -Thank you Mr Deputy President. The Federal Government is attempting to buy votes. It has assumed financial responsibility for these people, so let the Federal Government pay the right price for their votes. I advise the religious and charitable nursing homes not to enter into any deficit funding agreements with the Federal Government. I advise them to charge their patients the right fees in order to service their capital costs, their running costs and their maintenance costs, and to update costs and the costs of future expansion. By doing this they will quickly bring the Government to heel as the electors will not stand for the Government shirking its responsibilities to the very people it has promised to support. The Government's deal is really with the patients, not with the nursing homes. By acting as I have suggested the nursing homes will improve the services that they are able to provide and will provide them in a much more congenial atmosphere, in freedom and in control of their own destinies and in the finest religious and charitable principles and traditions.

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