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Friday, 19 April 1985
Page: 1501

Mr HOWE (Minister for Social Security)(11.56) —In my reply to the second reading debate I neglected, I concede, to discuss the question of the exclusion of organisations and institutions from this program at present. That, of course, does not mean, as the Minister for Community Services (Senator Grimes) made clear at the Senate Estimates Committee meeting, that there is any lack of commitment on the part of the Government to these organisations for continued funding. Certainly the funding is guaranteed overall. There is no question of that. I do not think there is any question of particular organisations being singled out. We are, after all, talking about guidelines; we are not talking about the singling out of any of those organisations.

The Government is well aware of the extraordinarily important contribution being made by major institutions. While the programs under this Bill concern mainly the smaller organisations and accommodation services, it is not our intention in any way to deprecate the work that is done by organisations such as the Mathew Talbot Hostel in Sydney, the Gilbert Memorial in Melbourne or whatever the equivalents are. Those organisations are large institutions that provide a service that will continue to need to be provided for accommodation for quite large groups of homeless people in the inner areas of the great cities. It is not intended to deprecate this work in any way; it is simply a matter of continuing discussions between the Commonwealth and the States about the levels and basis of funding and the guidelines that the Government will apply in relation to funding. Those organisations are covered in terms of the Homeless Persons Assistance Act and they will continue to be covered. There is no question of any threat to their funding.

I simply repeat that the Government believes that members of parliament ought to be aware of changes in the guidelines, so that in addition to the the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, which may be a somewhat obscure journal to ordinary people and even to parliamentarians, we will table the guidelines in the Parliament so that the Parliament is aware of them. It seems to me that to open up the possibilities of having guidelines unscrambled and to go back to complicated negotiations with the States is not warranted. For that reason, we reject the amendment.

Question put:

That the amendment (Mr Braithwaite's) be agreed to.