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Monday, 3 June 2013
Page: 4995


Mr CRAIG KELLY (Hughes) (19:31): I am pleased to rise and speak on this motion moved by the member for Shortland. I welcome this motion being brought on as it also provides an opportunity to touch on a package of legislation that recently passed through the House but fell well short of expectations, certainly for those in our aged-care sector.

As we have seen, this government's record on aged care has been patchy to say the least. For five years this government has ummed and ahhed in response to this most critical industry, an industry in crisis. It is known that up to 60 per cent of facilities currently in the aged-care sector are running at a loss. We have seen providers leaving the industry aghast and sick of waiting for the government to respond to inquiry after inquiry and report after report.

Providers in the aged-care sector offer a service absolutely critical to our nation's older citizens and this service is becoming more and more important with our ageing population. At the moment, unfortunately, we are seeing less investment in new facilities simply due to the uncertain environment that this government has provided.

However, despite this, there are some fine examples of wonderful facilities coming online and I have mentioned in this House previously the example of Barden Lodge, a facility in the electorate of Hughes which was opened earlier this year. It typifies the quality of service that on the whole is provided by the sector, dedicated to supporting and caring for older Australians.

But turning back to the contents of the motion before the House, it talks about a so-called positive agenda, an investment in aged care before highlighting three areas—namely, the aged pension, aged-care reform and support for older Australians to stay in the workforce. There is certainly nothing contentious in the motion but, when you cut through there flowery rhetoric, you see this as little more than typical of a government big on announcements and light on delivery.

Take increasing the age pension: we know that the current Prime Minister opposed this in cabinet with those famous words: 'Old people never vote for us.' Turn to Labor's so-called reforms—here we are speaking of the living longer, living better suite of legislation that we saw go through the House in the previous sitting week. The legislation came in response to the Productivity Commission's review, Caring for older Australians, that was handed down almost two years ago back in August 2011, which followed two other Productivity Commission reports in recent years.

But after sitting on this report for almost 12 months, what did this government come up with? Simply cherry-picking a couple of the 58 recommendations in the report and ripping $1.6 billion out of the aged-care funding instrument to pay for a $1.2 billion union recruitment strategy. he workforce supplement has been widely panned by industry stakeholders under the Senate estimates committee process, so it was no surprise that the Minister for Ageing was unable to find an aged-care centre to make this announcement.

While I could continue to describe the humorous scene of the minister announcing this policy outside a church, rather than an aged-care centre, just to the north of my electorate, I will instead take the remaining time to outline the positive plans the coalition has for older Australians in my own electorate and across the country.

The aged sector in this country is desperately in need of certainty, stability and support. That is why a coalition government, should we be elected in September, will introduce the first ever four-year aged-care provider agreement. This agreement will deliver better and more affordable aged care by reducing red tape and cutting time spent on reports and paperwork, allowing nurses to get back to providing care for clients, delivering value for money through revised subsidy arrangements and providing certainty for the aged-care workforce.

The coalition will also extend this certainty and stability to superannuation by making no unexpected adverse changes to superannuation, so that those planning for their retirement can do so with confidence, as well as supporting savings by getting the economy firing on all cylinders. We will support mature age workers with employment and support pensioners and self-funded retirees by tackling the cost-of-living pressures and providing pension increases and benefits without a carbon tax. And, importantly to my community, we will deliver fair indexation for DFRB and DFRDB pensions, where this government has spectacularly failed. We are going to see a terrible situation in the months to come, where many elderly Australians who have worked all their lives will be unable to afford to pay their electricity prices because of this government's carbon tax.