Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1670

Senator MILLINER (Queensland) - I believe that these Bills have received the complete support of all honourable senators, and that is understandable, because they have as their objective assistance to handicapped people. The hearts of all Australians generally go out to those who are less fortunate than themselves. Let me indicate how far politics departs from this area of responsibility. Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield went overseas recently to represent the Australian people at a world wide conference. She did a particularly good job. She is not of our political colour. Nevertheless the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) felt that because of her interest in activities of this type over the years she would be an appropriate person to represent Australia at that conference. I congratulate her on the excellent way in which she handled the situation. I mention that merely to indicate that there is no politics on either side in these matters.

There are many areas in which public spirited people do an excellent job in this regard. I know that we could speak of our experiences and of how we have been associated with sheltered workshops or workshops for handicapped people. I have tried to play my humble part in assisting a sheltered workshop known as Help Industries, but mine is a very minor role; I would be the first to acknowledge this. Nevertheless, I have been on the committee of that workshop since its inception and I hope that I have been able to do something, in some small measure, to assist. I wish to place on record my thanks to the retiring chairman of Help Industries in Queensland, Mr Wally Best. I do not know whether he has any other name; I refer to him affectionately as Wally because that is how he is known in all sections of the community in Brisbane. He has done a particularly good job for

Help Industries and I would not like this opportunity to pass without paying tribute to the work which he has done on behalf of Help Industries in Brisbane. I refer also to the work of Mr Andy Gibson, who was Regional Director of the Department of Labour and National Service in Queensland and who recently was promotedsome might say demoted -to the State Industrial Commission in Queensland. I am sure that it is a promotion and a recognition, in part, of the work which he did for Help Industries and for other organisations when he was Regional Director of Labour and National Service in Brisbane.

I was interested to hear Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield say that in America and Great Britain certain contracts require the Government to give work to sheltered workshops provided they can meet time schedules and conditions of this nature. I think that this matter should be pursued. I offer to the advisers of the Minister the suggestion that they should pursue this matter to see whether they can get these contracts for perusal. Australia works differently from the United States and Great Britain. Nevertheless, I believe it would be of advantage to have such contracts. We may be able to modify them, expand them or see whether we can do something about them.

A thought which I would offer to the Minister is that at times it is almost impossible for sheltered workshops to pay their way. I know that quite frequently at the end of the month they worry about the trading arrangements for the month. We cannot blame anybody. We cannot expect people in sheltered workshops to be on the job 100 per cent of the working week. Because of their difficulties it is physically impossible for them to do so. Consequently, the work gets behind. The person who gives us the job to do may be quite interested in our work; but, after all, he is in business and he wishes to meet time schedules. Therefore, frequently we find at the end of a month that our trading balance is not as healthy as it should be, because of the circumstances which I have related- and there are numerous others.

I therefore offer to the Minister the suggestion that I have recommended: If the AuditorGeneral or somebody else of that status, at the end of a year for a struggling sheltered workshop or a workshop which employs handicapped persons, feels that there has been a genuine attempt by the people concerned to run the organisation as efficiently as possible he should have the authority to ask or require the Government to recompense the organisation for any losses that it has incurred during that year. I offer that suggestion to the Minister because I know that what I have outlined can be a problem.

Senator DameNancy Buttfield has referred to Bedford Industries. We are not all as efficient as Bedford Industries. It has had a long association with this activity. I know the organisation; I have visited its premises; and I know just how efficient it is. But I believe that in other circumstances in other States- I can speak only of my own Statesheltered workshops have faced financial difficulties because of the nature of their work. In no circumstances do I wish it to be taken that the people running sheltered workshops are inefficient, negligent or anything of that kind. The problem arises just from the nature of the work. I therefore offer to the Minister my thoughts in that direction. In company with other senators, I congratulate the Government on this progressive legislation. I know that the Government will continue the good work that has been accomplished over the years by governments of all political characters and that we all will strive to do even better in the future for those who are unable to help themselves.

Suggest corrections