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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1418

Mr KEOGH (BOWMAN, QUEENSLAND) - My question is directed to the Minister for Social Security. Has his attention been drawn to reports last weekend and during the previous week that the Lynfield private nursing home at Wynnum, in my electorate, which provides accommodation for some 18 patients, is to be closed next month by the Federal Government? Is this report correct?If so, why has the Government decided to close the home? Further, can the Minister give the House any information on the plan, which he put recently to the Queensland Government, to provide alternative accommodation for patients affected by nursing home closures?

Mr HAYDEN - It is not correct to assert, as was asserted in those reports over the weekend and earlier, that the Australian Government is responsible for the closing of the Lynfield nursing home. One of the requirements for registration as an approved nursing home for the purpose of attracting bed day benefit from the Australian Government is that the nursing home must be acceptable for registration purposes to the State government concerned; and a condition for registration is that a suitable fire report has to supplied by the appropriate fire authority, which in Queensland is the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Board.

The facts about this home are that in October 1970 the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Board reported that the home was then unsuitable for occupancy as a nursing home, and the licence should only be extended for a further 3 years'. Soon afterwards the people conducting the home installed an automatic fire alarm but did not carry out structural changes as required by the Fire Brigade Board. In November and December 1970 the State Department of Health in Queensland and the Department of Social Security, respectively asked the proprietor of the home what were her intentions as to the future operation of the home, especially in relation to the report by the Fire Brigade Board. In February 1971 a letter was received by the Department of Social Security from the proprietor stating that it was rather difficult for her to say exactly what her intentions would be. In July 1972 the State Department of Health renewed the licence for this home to 15 October 1973 and requested advice from the proprietor about her intentions in respect to the continued conducting of the premises.

On 11 August 1972 - well before the system of free justification which was introduced by the previous Government was legislated for and, of course, well before it was applied by the present Government, which was from January of this year - the proprietor of the home advised the State health authorities that in accordance with the Fire Brigade report she would close the home when the licence expired. Accordingly, the home is to be closed down because of an adverse Fire Brigade report and because the proprietor of the home had decided, well before the election to office of the present Government, to close down the home following that report. I repeat that the Australian Government had nothing to do with that decision being taken. Quite a number of private profit making nursing homes in Queensland, mostly in the Brisbane area, are the subject of adverse Fire Brigade reports. We must accept those reports on their face value because they come from a responsible authority charged with this duty by the State authorities. Because a number of these homes have been the subject of adverse Fire Brigade reports and have been for a number of years the Australian Government has advised the Queensland Government that it is prepared to make $1.2m available on a dollar for dollar basis for the acquisition of existing premises that are suitable for conversion to nursing home units. The proposal which has been put to the Queensland Government is a clear indication of the sincerity of our intent and of our concern about the security of people in private profit making nursing homes designated by the Brisbane Metropolitan Fire Brigade report as being fire hazards. Until we receive further advice from the State Government we can take no further action.

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