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Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 1715

Senator WEBSTER (VICTORIA) - I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether his attention has been attracted to publicity given to the discussions of the Hobart City Council which is reported to have stated that, in its belief, a home for the aged which was recently established and built with the substantial aid of a Commonwealth grant under the Aged Persons Homes Act is not a charitable institution. Does the Commonwealth prior to making a grant under the Aged Persons Homes Act, establish to its satisfaction that the proposed institution which will receive aid is either a religious or a charitable institution? Does the Minister realise that in some instances after renewal or rebuilding of aged persons homes the main benefactors are local municipal bodies? I shall instance the case to which I refer. The Council raised the local rates from $250 on the land prior to the erection of the Commonwealth assisted building to $5,000 on completion of the building. Will the Minister declare Commonwealth assisted aged persons homes to be charitable? Will he attempt to intervene to save unduly high charges by municipal authorities which are causing higher charges to be made to inmates who, in most instances, are pensioners?

Senator GREENWOOD - I comprehend the matters which have been raised by the honourable senator. I was not aware of what the Hobart City Council had said. Nor am I aware that there has been any problem of the character mentioned by the honourable senator. I shall draw the matter to the attention of the Minister for Social Services. It must be recognised that the Commonwealth Government makes available facilities to enable these aged persons homes to be constructed to as wide a group of persons as possible who are prepared to take the action of raising some money themselves. It may well be that in some circumstances such homes do not qualify as charitable institutions for the purposes of local government legislation. It would be a very bold step for the Commonwealth Government to seek to interfere in local government legislation, which is essentially a State matter, or to limit the types of assistance which it makes available to only those institutions which can be charitable institutions. But having said that by way of amplification to a long question, I shall convey the tenor of what the honourable senator has said, and my answer, to the Minister to see whether he wants to add anything more to it.

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