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Opposition still mirrors Government on aged care.



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THE HON CHRISTOPHER PYNE MP

Minister for Ageing

MEDIA RELEASE

Parliament House Canberra ACT 2600 • Telephone: (02) 6277 7280 Facsimile: (02) 6277 4138

6 August 2007 CP89/07

Opposition still mirrors Government on aged care

Kevin Rudd was still clinging to Labor’s non-existent aged care “policy” on morning radio today, despite the fact that it merely mirrors Government policy already announced and budgeted.

“Kevin Rudd has promised $158 million - over five years - to create 2,000 transition care beds.

“The Government established the Transition Care Program back in the 2004 Budget and has now allocated 2,000 places.

“The program has yet to reach full capacity, with some states yet to make places operational.

"Mr Rudd’s announcement is also under-funded - when fully utilised, the Government will provide funding of around $80 million per year compared to Labor’s $158 million over five years,” Mr Pyne said.

“In addition to the Transition Care Program, which has already been funded, the Government has provided the states and territories with $253 million under the Pathways Home Program to improve rehabilitation and step-down services for older people leaving hospital.

“Thirdly, under the COAG Assistance for Older Long-Stay Patients in Public Hospitals initiative, the Government has made available $150 million over four years to reduce unnecessary admissions, improve in-patient services and improve the transition to appropriate long-term care.

“These three initiatives have already been announced, and budgeted for. So far, no state or territory has yet fully implemented these initiatives,” Mr Pyne said.

“Kevin Rudd and his shadow ministers are clearly on shaky ground when it comes to understanding the detail of aged care policy, and it is frankly embarrassing that the Leader of the Opposition can talk about this $158 million as if it was substantial new policy. Mr Rudd continues to be tricky with the figures,” Mr Pyne said.

“The Howard Government has an excellent record of increased and improved services when it comes to the aged care sector. The facts speak for themselves: • The Australian Government has significantly increased expenditure on aged and community care services - from around $3.1 billion in 1995-96 to a budgeted $8.6 billion in 2007-08 and

an increase to $10 billion by 2010-11. • On 31 December 2006 the Australian Government supported 208,698 operational aged care places, compared to 141,292 on 30 June 1996 - an increase of 67,406 places or 47.7 per cent. • The increase in aged care provision has not been matched by state government hospital bed

numbers. From 1996-97 to 2005-06, the number of operational aged care places has increased by 36 per cent to 197,203 places. Over the same time, public acute hospital bed numbers declined by 2 per cent. In 1996-97 there were 2.7 aged care places for each public acute hospital bed. This has grown to 3.8 places per public acute hospital bed in 2005-06.”

Media contact: Adam Howard 0400 414 833