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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3830

Ms MACKLIN —Mr Acting Speaker—

Honourable members interjecting

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —The honourable member for Jagajaga has the call and will be heard in silence.

Ms MACKLIN —My question is addressed to the Minister for Family Services. It is a serious question.

Mr McGauran —Oh, yeah! Like to try to convince us?

Ms MACKLIN —Would you like to wait and hear it? Has the minister seen a report of comments by Mr Bob Officer, the Chairman of the government's National Commission of Audit, in which he describes the harsh budget measure to introduce an up-front fee for nursing home patients in the following terms: `It's not a death tax. Instead of a pay as you go, it's a pay after you go (tax).' Does the minister support Mr Officer's description of that terrible budget measure?

Mrs MOYLAN —Thank you very much for the question. I was getting a bit worried that the shadow minister was not going to get to ask me a question. It is usually the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who ask me the questions.

I do not accept that proposition at all. We had inherited an age care system that was in total disrepair. It was in decline. The Labor government when it was in office was told three years ago that it needed to inject a considerable amount of capital into the nursing home sector. It failed to take that advice. In fact, I understand that the shadow minister, the member for Jagajaga, was a consultant to the former government in this respect. I wonder whether the government chose to ignore the advice or whether the advice was simply never given.

But the fact is that we have an age care system that, as I said, was in decline. There was a serious problem for many residents of nursing homes. We inherited the problem. We have the responsibility to fix it. We will fix the problem.