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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 114


Mr TIM WILSON (Goldstein) (11:47): The members' time has expired on that last point, but perhaps we could broaden that and say his arguments have expired as well. I have to say it's very disappointing, frankly, to even speak on this motion when you've got a government making as much of a commitment to aged care as any government in Australian history. Despite that, the opposition come out and make bold claims, seeking to deride the incredible effort this government is making to ensure that people at a vulnerable stage of life get the support and assistance they need. It is particularly disappointing when they oppose every single measure that is necessary to underpin that proposition.

If you want to afford aged-care places, you need people in jobs, you need people to be contributing and paying tax and you need to make sure we see growth in the economy to provide for those people who are most vulnerable. If you ever want to look at the vacancy in that policy position and the absent understanding of just how critical a stronger economy is, we only need look at the opposition benches and their policy framework. But let's get past their disappointment and get to the disappointment of the previous speaker.

The previous speaker started with a long list of things that he wanted to blame on the Turnbull government. One of them apparently is the ageing population itself. An ageing population firstly is a celebration of technology and ingenuity and how people can live longer, happier, healthier lives—and manage chronic conditions. It is a power of the spirit of humanity and the technological improvements that have improved this country. But, even then, to blame the ageing population on the Turnbull government is frankly nothing short of absurd. When you look at why we have an ageing population, you see it isn't just because of the trajectory of the population; it's also because there was this big boom of people born in the middle of the 20th century. He may have forgotten, but the reason for that is that it was a legacy of war and everything else. And it's not just that a large number of people were being born. On top of that, people were able to go on to live longer, healthier and happier lives. So, on one level, we might as well accept that criticism; it's actually a compliment. But, to be frank, I don't think we can take responsibility for it.

There has been no minister for aged care in this parliament that I have seen that cares as much as this Minister for Aged Care. He's come down to the Goldstein electorate to meet with local aged-care providers, support staff, workers and managers of local aged-care facilities, and we've been very proud to host him. Yes, he is, as some members have noted, received like a rock star, and he is a rock star, because he is compassionate, caring and mindful of the challenges and on top of every single part of the detail. Recently, in fact, we went to the opening of the Abberfield Aged Care Facility on Bluff Road in Sandringham, where a family has come together to invest in an aged-care facility. Every single client who lives in it expressed to me their deep satisfaction with the services and, particularly, the staff and their compassion and concern for how the clients are cared for. The fact that the minister turned up to open it was a great credit to him and a great contribution to that community.

But it sits across a backdrop of the commitment that this government makes across the board and across the nation, not just in Goldstein. Year on year, under this government, home care packages have been up and residential care places are up, and every year aged-care funding has been up. I'm a Liberal. We don't just think about it in terms of dollars and cents; we also think about it in terms of outcomes. Every dollar that goes in has to deliver an outcome for Australians. And, it's not just that, since the coalition government has been elected, aged-care spending has increased by an average of more than six per cent per year—and that's on average a billion dollars of extra funding and support for older Australians each year. We have also been able to mobilise people to be able to live broader, fuller, healthier and happier lives. That is something that we are incredibly proud of, because it means that people at a vulnerable stage of life who aren't able to change their circumstances get the support and assistance they need. But it's not just in the provision of aged care, at home or in a centre, that there have been such huge improvements. It's also in the capacity to shift and focus on many of the other issues that affect people in an ageing population. Increasingly, through services like palliative care, we are providing support to people facing serious conditions and making sure they get the assistance they need, and addressing the challenges faced by those, like my grandmother, who face dementia. At every point, this government is delivering for Australians who are ageing. (Time expired)

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Bird ): The time allotted for this debate has expired. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.