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Wednesday, 4 April 1984
Page: 1190


Senator GILES —My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Security. In view of the allegation by dissident doctors that they object to a requirement to sign an open-ended agreement with the Minister for Health, can the Minister comment on the further allegation contained in a letter to the editor of the West Australian on Tuesday, 3 April that committees of management of hostels for the aged must sign agreements with the Director-General of Social Security, which agreements are also liable to alteration at any time?


Senator GRIMES —I have not seen the letter referred to by Senator Giles. I assume the writer refers to agreements which are signed by the operators of aged people 's hostels to enable them to get the new hostel subsidy and the personal care subsidy. Many alterations to those contracts would in fact not be made without consultation with the relevant organisations concerned and with the umbrella body to which most of them belong. Indeed, for the first couple of years of the operation of the new subsidies the Department is waiving and will continue to waive some of the conditions which apply to ensure that in the transitional period when the hostels are changing from the old system of subsidy to the new we do not have hostels having to bear an unnecessary burden. The latest figures I have seen have shown that under the new system the majority of hostels are better off than they were under the old system. We certainly would not, any more than would the Minister for Health, make drastic changes to contracts without consultation with the people concerned.