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Tuesday, 21 March 1972
Page: 697

Senator McMANUS - Has the Minister for Health noted that the Chairman of the Mental Health Authority in Victoria recently presented to the State Parliament the most scathing report in history pointing to the inadequacy of mental health services and the near bankruptcy which in the near future will cause many private institutions in this field to close their doors? Will the. Minister arrange at the earliest possible date for the Senate to debate the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare on the provision of suitable help for mentally handicapped persons - a report for which, we all know, Senator Fitzgerald deserves a lot of credit - because there is grave concern among interested bodies lest this important matter be forgotten?

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON I have no objection to a debate on the Committee's report. I was largely influential in having the matter referred to an inter-departmental committee for investigation. That was done at my instigation. The matters which relate particularly to Victoria should be directed to the Victorian Minister for Health and I commend that course to the honourable senator if he wishes to do so.

Senator McManus - Finance affects the matter.

Senator Sir KENNETH ANDERSON Finance affects everything and everybody. The truth of the matter is that the Commonwealth makes a contribution to the States in relation to patients in mental institutions. It could be argued - I suppose it always will be - that the amount could be greater. That argument is not necessarily peculiar to the health problem. Over the whole perimeter of Commonwealth-State relations a situation exists where it is always said that the Commonwealth, no matter how generous it may be, is not providing enough finance. The matter of the Commonwealth's contributions in this field was raised at the recent Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Health which I attended about a fortnight ago. I suggest that the question be referred to the State authorities through the Victorian Minister for Health. Dealing with the question of a continuing debate on the tremendously important report of the Senate Committee, we can look at that as a Senate to see whether provision can be made for a further discussion of it.

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