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Thursday, 8 November 1973
Page: 1671

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Media) - Speaking on behalf of the Government, I am gratified to hear the remarks of all honourable senators who have spoken on these 2 very important measures. Firstly, I endorse the remarks of my colleague Senator Milliner when he paid tribute, as has been done by the Government and particularly by the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), to our Senate colleague Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield, who was invited to go to the United States of America to play a prominent part in international discussions on the problems of the physically and mentally handicapped. Having been a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare which inquired at length into the problems of the physically and mentally handicapped, I echo the remarks of Senator Jessop when I say frankly that I am very proud that the Government of which I am a member has taken heed of the very detailed and voluminous report which was arrived at collectively and unanimously by the members of that Committee, who were of all political persuasions, after they had taken evidence at length from a large cross-section of the Australian people who represent the physically and mentally handicapped section, particularly the handicapped children, in our community.

When the report of the Committee was presented to the Parliament, I, as a member of the then Opposition, recalled in detail the heartrending examples that we saw at first hand of the problems of many children and their parents and, probably to a greater extent, the problems of the non-handicapped members of families which have mentally or physically handicapped children. While the Government to date has recognised to a very substantial extent the details embodied in the report to which Senator Jessop has referred and has indicated by very tangible evidence in these Bills that it is taking heed of those reports, there are still other matters that have to be attended to and which undoubtedly will receive the attention of governments from time to time. I think Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield referred to the extension of government contracts for sheltered workshops. I should point out to her that this, of course was one of the recommendations of the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare of which she was a member and of which I also was a member.

Senator Milliner - Is that the Wedgwood report?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Yes. Dame Ivy Wedgwood was Chairman of that Committee at the time she was a member of the Senate. I think the report was referred to at one stage as the Wedgwood Committee report. The Government is certainly not overlooking the question of the provision of government contracts for sheltered workshops. The Department of Social Security is working on it. The Department has in fact made a survey of the workshops that exist throughout Australia- there are some 200- to find out the sort of government contractual work that the sheltered workshops might be able to do or might be able to be involved in. That survey having been made and the result of it being assessed, it is the intention of the Department to advise each of the other government departments and I would hope statutory commissions and corporations of the actual type of work that the Department feels the sheltered workshops can do. Discussions have been held with the Commonwealth Department of Supply and also, I understand, with the Department of the Treasury.

One suggestion that is being looked at amongst a number of others- I mention this particularly for the benefit of Senator Dame Nancy Buttfield because I know how interested she was on the Committee of which we were members- is that perhaps 10 per cent of a contract to a supplier might be let out to a sheltered workshop with the approval of the successful tenderer. It is that type of thing and others generally that are being examined. Having made those comments in the generality suffice it for me to say that I greatly appreciate the sentiments that have been expressed by all honourable senators who have spoken on the 2 Bills. I appreciate the speedy passage that has been given to the legislation by the Senate and I hope that in the lifetime of this Government other measures will be able to be pursued which will make the lot of those who are less fortunate than us much easier in the days that are ahead.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.

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