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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 1427

Mr BROWN (Diamond Valley) - It is not often that we hear the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) in a quiet, reflective, expansive mood. I must say it is a very pleasant change. I think that on this occasion we should express our appreciation to the honourable member for drawing our attention to the favourable situation that exists in South Australia, at least at the moment, so far as these facilities are concerned and thank him for what I understand to be the implied if not the almost expressed recognition of the. work of Mr Ian Wilson and his distinguished father in this field. I think the honourable member is to be commended for his generosity in that regard. In the course of this lively debate I think there has already been enough detail given as to the operation of the scheme envisaged by the 2 pieces of legislation which are before the House at the moment. I will not go over them again. Suffice it to say, very briefly and really just for the purposes of history when this speech of mine comes to be considered, that the Aged Persons Homes Bill increases from $5 to $10 a week the subsidy paid to non-profit homes caring for people over 80 years of age to provide personal attention for these people.

The Aged Persons Hostels Bill provides for very substantial appropriations by the Commonwealth Government for the provision of hostel accommodation. I mention briefly - nevertheless I think it is significant - that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) expressed a hope in the course of his second reading speech that the legislation with respect to the subsidy increase from $5 to $10 would have the effect of enabling aged persons homes organisations to balance their books in view of the very precarious situation in which a lot of them have been. There is only one such organisation with Which I have had association myself. I do not profess, as has probably become apparent already, to be an expert in this field. However, there is one such organisation and one such home that I have had something to do with, namely, the Judge Book Memorial Village in Eltham which is run by the Community Welfare Foundation of Melbourne. I have spoken to officials of that organisation and I must say that they are very pleased indeed at the legislation with which the Government is now proceeding. They have indicated that this measure to increase the subsidies will quite clearly bring about a very substantial improvement in the situation at the Judge Book Village. This, of course, has been assessed already, at least in general terms and the officials can see the very real contribution that the Government has made to the effective continuing operation of the organisation of the Judge Book Village and they are, of course, most appreciative. It would seem quite clearly that the Minister's hope will be justified. He deserves every congratulation that has been given to him by previous speakers for his work on this important step forward.

Finally, because I think it is important that we should put these things into perspective, I turn once again, but briefly, to the honourable member for Sturt and some of his comments in reply to my colleague, the honourable member for Bennelong (Sir John Cramer). Honourable members will recall that the honourable member for Bennelong drew attention to. the fact that the vast series of measures for the benefit of aged persons in this field were new. The point he was making was that it was a new programme in a new field and that new benefits had been conferred in recent years under these schemes. The honourable member for Sturt took issue with him on this. All I say is that the facts stand for themselves. If the honourable member for Sturt and other honourable members will look at the record in this field they will see quite clearly - I can see your own approval of this proposition, Mr Deputy Speaker - that these are new schemes with new benefits that have been introduced by this Government.

One can take this further, I refer briefly to this aspect because I do not want to get too far from the subject of the debate, but it is important to regard these measures that we are considering within the whole context of social services. Quite clearly in Australia comparatively few social service measures have been introduced by Labor governments in the history of this country. Indeed, one could say that the most desirable social service measures always have been introduced by non-Labor governments. If we look through these measures and at the various types of facilities that we are discussing, such as the Meals on Wheels programme, assistance to handicapped children, sheltered workshops and the home care programme, we see, of course, that they were all introduced by this present Government or its immediate predecessors. I think this should be borne in mind in view of the comments that come from members of the Opposition suggesting that the Government is not concerned with social welfare. This is absolute nonsense. As I have said, it can be easily demonstrated that the most worthwhile measures have been introduced by this Government and its predecessors.

Mr FOSTER(Sturt)- I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)Order!Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr FOSTER - Yes. I have been misrepresented by the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown), who has just resumed his seat. He made certain inferences. It was my unfortunate experience in relation to my 2 predecessors in this House to have to work most actively prior to the last election to ensure that eviction notices issued under the name of a board with which those 2 members were associated were, in fact, withdrawn and not served on 87-year-old widows. I do not want to say this but-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! There is no personal explanation.

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