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Monday, 22 March 1999
Page: 3916

Mrs ELSON —My question is addressed to the Minister for Aged Care. Would the minister inform the House of progress of the two-year review of the Howard government's aged care reforms?

Mr Snowdon interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —I remind the member for the Northern Territory of the general warning that has been issued.

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Aged Care) —I thank the member for her question, because I know of the concern that she has for older people in her electorate. I know that she is concerned that the reforms that this government brought in are being overseen by the department, this review and me. The fact is that the people are a bit smarter than the Labor Party ever gave them credit for. In 1997 when these reforms were brought in they were clearly needed. Despite the dishonest, rancorous, misleading campaign lodged by the Labor Party, this review has shown that the people saw there was a need for the reforms to be brought into place.

Anecdotal evidence has been sought from the focus groups. Some 500 people have taken part in 17 locations in remote and rural Australia. I have had the first six-monthly report from these focus groups, which will give a very good lead to the next six-monthly report that Professor Gray will deliver to me in July. The bottom line is that these reforms were clearly seen to be needed by the people involved in aged care and we will continue to make sure that we deliver excellent care for older Australians.