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Wednesday, 18 September 1985
Page: 648

Senator PETER BAUME(10.13) —It is clear from the statement made by the Minister for Community Services (Senator Grimes) and from the report of the Joint Review of Hostel Care Subsidies Arrangements which has been tabled that we are dealing with a matter of great complexity and detail. The report contains a number of quite detailed comments on matters which go to the heart of the administration of some of these subsidy programs. What the Government is doing in this area is consistent with the approach of the Liberal Party of Australia, which is to look to welfare provision based on need and to make the appropriate administrative arrangements to ensure that we are responding to need and that need is the basis of welfare provision. The moves in regard to hostel care subsidies, such as those which have been announced in the Minister's statement, are consistent with the Liberal Party approach.

The report covers a number of issues which go to the efficiency of operation of the subsidy schemes. We are interested in those. However, more importantly, we are seeing an attempt to offer more options to the people who use these services-options such as community living arrangements as opposed to residential care. If we can achieve this as a nation, the people who benefit will be those who use the services now. This has been a continuing concern of Liberal governments and, I believe, is a continuing concern of the present Government. There is no guarantee that any one system of provision of services will be perfect or permanent. As new situations arise there may be a requirement for new arrangements. One of the consequences of what is occurring now is that, although the subsidy levels have increased, so has the amount of control which is being exerted over organisations. So, one has to balance the question of increasing Commonwealth control.

We on this side of the Parliament will continue to be available to listen to those who are administering programs involving hostel care and to those who are trying to make alternative arrangements for people to undertake community living even if they require assistance. We will be available to listen to the residents and to the providers of these services. We will remain available to explore new options and to monitor need in this area as that need changes. Of course, it is changing as the demography of our society is changing. There is no system or set of arrangements which is perfect. Although we welcome what has happened here, we recognise that arrangements will have to be watched. Reviews like this can assist us in understanding what is happening and what should happen.

I do not wish to speak at any length. I understand that in a moment we will have the resumption of the Budget debate and that three new senators will be making their first speeches in this place. I understand that one of them, having the same surname and in fact the same grandfather as me, will lead off for that group of new speakers. So, on behalf of the Opposition, I say that we have a continuing interest in what has been covered in the Minister's statement. We believe much of it is consistent with what the Liberal Party of Australia is trying to achieve. I look forward to being able to follow this program further into the future.