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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1944

Mr VAN MANEN (FordeGovernment Whip) (12:27): I'd like to thank the member for Hindmarsh for bringing this motion to the House, because it provides me with the opportunity to speak about what I think is a very important issue for constituents in the electorate of Forde. As we are seeing across all of our electorates, as Australians are getting older and we're having the bulge of the baby boomers starting to enter retirement, as they get older they'll want increased healthcare services because they've reached a standard of living that they expect to retain through to when they pass away. But all of that comes at a cost, and somehow this has to be paid for.

I have no issue with the argument that we should be taking care of people and looking after them in their old age and in their frailty. Having family members directly in this situation, I am well and truly aware of the necessity and importance of ensuring that we have a sustainable system for older Australians to ensure that their healthcare needs can be met.

Where possible, the best place for people to be cared for is in their own home if for no other reason than that moving into an aged-care facility incurs enormous cost and dislocation from community and from friends and neighbours. In a lot of cases, people may have lived in those homes for 30, 40 or 50 years. The value of providing in-home care on that basis is incalculable.

I acknowledge the work that the previous Labor government did. The importance of that work is that we now have a true understanding of the requirements of the system. Before that, we had no idea, and that's where the changes that we brought in in February of last year give us a much, much clearer picture of the requirements in the system. I acknowledge that there are people on waiting lists. Everyone would like to think that we could make the waiting lists disappear overnight, but the reality is that that is not financially feasible. We have to look at how, through responsibly managing the budget—those opposite have carried on about tax cuts for business and whatever, but I'd remind them that back in November 2016 they voted against a package of multinational tax reform measures that have resulted in this government collecting an extra $4 billion in revenue that they voted against. That figure is heading towards $7 billion. So it is this government that has taken the steps necessary to ensure that businesses in Australia, whether they are multinational or purely Australian businesses, pay the appropriate levels of tax necessary to ensure that we can continue to afford to provide the services that Australians have come to accept, whether they are in education, health or child care or in a range of other areas.

This government is working very hard to ensure that we can continue to provide these services and grow the number of packages available to older Australians. Currently, some 2½ thousand packages are released on a weekly basis. In September last year we released an additional 6,000. We know that there is still much to be done in this space. We will continue to do it. We will continue to work with older Australians to ensure that, in the interim, if they can't get their full package they have a package of assistance to at least help them until they receive the full package that they are eligible for. That is what this government is continuing to do through any number of measures, some of which those opposite have voted against.