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Tuesday, 8 May 2018
Page: 3268

Aged Care

Ms FLINT (Boothby) (14:54): My question is to the Minister for Aged Care. Would the minister update the House on the quality aged-care services currently being provided to more than 2,600 aged-care facilities across the country, including 18 in my electorate of Boothby? How has the government acted to ensure this quality of care since the 2017 budget?

Mr WYATT (HasluckMinister for Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health) (14:54): I'd like to thank the member for Boothby for her ongoing interest in aged care, for the work that she is doing within her electorate with her providers and, more importantly, for her question. Following the Carnell-Paterson review, the Turnbull government established a new independent, national aged-care quality and safety commission, a one-stop shop to prevent failures and highlight any quality concerns and have them quickly rectified. The commission will have a special focus on risk management and rapid action, including the development of a serious incident response scheme.

On 17 March, I introduced unannounced visits to all aged-care providers. If they're operating at the level that is required under the Living Longer Living Better legislation, there should be no compromise on quality within any of those facilities for 365 days of the year. Since July last year, four homes have lost their licences and have been closed because they did not meet the 44 quality standards. We know that the vast majority of Australia's more than 2,600 aged-care homes and the sector's 360,000 staff give exceptional care. But, as we've seen, there can be failures, and we should ensure that we never have another Oakden occur in our country—that it's never repeated. Our reforms are in response to what came out of the Carnell-Paterson review.

I'm slow to anger but I must admit that the Leader of the Opposition recently commenting that the system is in crisis and a national disgrace was not becoming of what I would expect in a bilateral and bipartisan approach to aged care. This demeans every one of those dedicated aged-care workers and it achieves nothing but to instil fear into the hearts and minds of older Australians—just like Labor did in the lead-up to the last election when they were peddling 'Mediscare' lies, designed to scare the very people most deserving. For the Leader of the Opposition to continue this aged-care fear mongering is verging on the abuse of older Australians and it must stop.

In contrast, the Turnbull government's approach is positive—supporting, growing and upskilling our aged-care workforce to get the best possible care. John Pollaers has been working on a task force looking at the workforce that we need to ensure there is quality and quality workers within the aged-care sector. The care of seniors receiving care is paramount. The Turnbull government has the best interests of older Australians at heart, unlike the opposition, who wants to tax them. Labor will abolish the dividend cash refunds for pensioners and retirees on low incomes. Ours is a government that is spending on average $1 billion a year, to record levels, to ensure that we provide the best possible care for our older Australians. (Time expired)