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Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Page: 9425


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (16:34): The member for Oxley dealt with the grubby changes to superannuation that are going to impact millions of Australians in terms of their financial security. The member for Jagajaga talked about pensions. I want to refer the member for Ryan—she did say that there was almost no adverse impacts on pensions and senior Australians—to page 192 of Budget Paper No. 2, which shows $1.3 billion in cuts for pension concessions; for utilities, for transport, for registration et cetera. Page 203 of this document—if you had bothered to look at it, Member for Ryan—shows $449 million in cuts to pensions; veterans pensions, disability pensions, carers payments, age pensions. That is what it shows. And, if those members have a look at their own document, they will see there are cuts to pensions for older Australians.

But what age pensioners need is support, greater choice and financial security. They need more support and care at home. They need greater access to residential aged care. We did Living Longer, Living Better. I will deal with the third aspect of this MPI: support to older Australians and the cuts the coalition is undertaking. What did they do within days of getting into government? They cut the workforce supplement, which was there to help aged-care providers with assistance for nurses and carers in aged-care facilities—$1.1 billion. They cut the funding in the workforce supplement. They followed it up in the budget with $653 million in cuts; getting rid of the aged-care payroll tax exemption supplement. The aged-care sector had no idea this was coming. It was a one-two punch to the head for the aged-care sector. It meant that a sector with low profit margins could not provide the assistance. I met today with Leading Age Services Australia, LASA, to talk about this and the impact on older Australians because of the cuts that this government has perpetrated on senior Australians.

Then, just before Dementia Awareness Month, this government cuts the dementia and severe behaviour supplement; 330,000 Australians need that help in residential aged-care facilities. Now the children of people in those aged-care facilities have to go there to provide the support and assistance that aged-care providers and residential aged-care homes should be providing. And all those opposite bemoan this. They go back to their listening posts and mobile offices and say: 'We have cut the dementia and severe behaviours supplement'.

There was no notice given to the industry. It was not in the MYEFO and it was not in the budget—but after the budget. The sector did not know about it. This sector is under so much pressure from the cuts of those opposite. They did not tell the sector about this before the election—and they did not tell them that they were going to get rid of the payroll tax exemption supplement either. What the government have done is make it harder for older Australians in residential aged-care facilities. Where are they going to get the doctors, nurses, carers and accountants? Where are they going to provide assistance?

We know that older Australians need support. This is a country with an ageing demographic. At Federation four per cent of Australians were over 65 years of age; now it is 14 per cent and it is going to be 25 per cent in the next couple of decades. There will be a million Australians in this country with dementia, and those opposite do not care at all—because they are cutting the funding for this sort of assistance in the homes. That is what they have done—with no consultation with the sector.

Those consequential cuts will have an impact on the kind of care those people in dementia units get. They have kept the cognition supplement—the extra 10 per cent—for the homecare packages for people with dementia who are in their home. But they cut the funding, the extra $16.15 a day—that is all it is—for those people in dementia units. I say to those opposite: go back to your listening post, your mobile offices and your aged-care homes—go to Blue Care—and tell them that you are cutting the funding. Those opposite will pay a big price for their cuts to support for aged care. They will pay a big price for their cuts to support the pension and the cuts to support superannuation. In places like Townsville, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Rockhampton, they will rue the day they did this.