PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 2584


Photo of McMahon, William

McMahon, William

Period of Service: 10/03/1971 to 05/12/1972

More information about McMahon, William on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 07/05/1972

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 2584

Speech by the Prime Minister, The Rt Hon. William
McMahon, M. P. MAY 7, 1972.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you for your welcome and for the opportunity to
be here today. This occasion is an important one for every one who
has the welfare of old and handicapped people close to their hearts.
But most of all it is important to those elderly people who will
move into this new lodge to live. This new building is to be their
home, and in it I know they will find security and care as well
as contentment and happiness. In it they will find friendships and
associations which will do much to remove fear and loneliness from
their lives. I do not believe that any nation . can be at ease with
its conscience while there are old, and frail, and handicapp~ d
people in our midst who are without proper care.
The problems of modern governments are many and complex,
but there must still be in the forefront of our policies, the
welfare of the people whose life's work is done., and who are without
the means to look nfter themselves. In one way or another,
every elderly person in our community played a part in making'
Australia a favoured country in the world.
Just think for a moment of the events in our history
through which a person of seventy years of age has lived. They
saw the foundation years of this commonwealth, and saw us grow and
mature from a rural to an industrialised society: Two world wars
and other conflicts7 droughts, depression, flood and fire; progress,
development, achievement and prosperity. All these things good
and bad have given Australians many reasons to be proud. They
have made us a nation. Let us not forget, then, that today's old
people were the young people of those yesterdays of our history.
They were part of the pioneering force in our community. They
worked hard and they rcarcd families and gave real m-aning to the
old song " Advance Australia Fair". Those of them who are in need
should not be forgotten now, and here at Swan Cottage Homes they
are not forgotten.

This is one of the leading institutions of its kind in
Australia. Nearly twelve years ago, it was founded by my friend
Dick Cleaver to provide modern low cost housing for elderly people.
At that time he opened a bank account of ten dollars. Today the
Swan Cottage Homes organisation controls assets valued at two and
three quarter million dollars. There are now 401 units providing
accommodation for 531 people with a later potential for 617 people.
I think you will all agree that this is a magnificent result of the
dedication and inspiration of Dick Cleaver and Mrs. Cleaver, and I
pay my tribute to them now.
I think it is appropriate that this new block, which I will
officially name shortly, is called after him. One of its impressive
aspects is the effort made and one which is obviously succeeding
to treat elderly people as individuals and not as numbers in an
anonymous group. This is tremendously important because each one
of us, whatever our station in life, has pride and self-respect.
If our needy old people cannot have these things because of our
neglect then the nation will have a stain on its record which will
be to its eternal shame. This village protects the pride and selfrespect
of all who come under its roof. It offers constant care for
those who must have it. It offers a home for those who need one.
My Government regards its sgial welfare policies as among
our highest priorities. We have been actively reviewing, revising
and extending them and each year has seen some now assistance being
given or existing benefits increased. This will go on. The
business of looking after those in need is " unfinished business",
so far as my Government is concerned. It may be a task without end,
but we are determined that the Government will play its part and
play it in a significant way. Under the Aged Persons Homes Act
which I had the pleasure of introducing into Parliament the
Commonwealth government has given substantial assistance towards
this project. Much has also been provided by dedicated fund-raising
efforts. My Government does depend heavily on community effort and
interests: For the identification of the needs of old people and the
areas where help is most wanted.
Governments can act against p xe only with the guidance
and help of their own citizensand when help is given, it is the
personal touch of the local groups of welfare workers and the staffs
of the institutions themselves which makes the old and the frail and
infirm feel that human beings ar: helping them not an anonymous,
remote and impersonal government. Today marks the completion of
another project in the proud record of Swan Cottage Homes. They have
have served a noble purpose and have set an example to the nation
i: so many of their activities. The development of their resources
is not at an end by any means. We need to spend very substantial
sums to help our elderly citizens who cannot help themselves.
Since the Aged Persons Homes Act came into force in 1954,
Commonwealth grants have totalled about 131 million dollars and when
all subsidised projects have been completed, accommodation will have
been n-ovided for over 41,000 old people. / 3

This is a fine community effort, and I don't want to appear
to be suggesting that it is mostly the Government that has done
all this. The Government is a substantial contributor, it is true,
and will go on providing as much as it can, but this is, in fact,
a co-operative effort by Government, by people, by institutions and
companies. I want to see it continue throughout the whole range
of our social services. My Government is pledged to help and help
it will. Our record in the past is, I believe, a good one. But
we are not satisfied. We want to do better and we intend to do
better. We want to see our old and needy people all of them
secure, remembered, and at peace in the evening of their lives.
I believe this is a national duty for us all and one we must and
will fulfil.

Transcript 2584