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Monday, 25 June 2018
Page: 6260

Mr PERRETT (MoretonOpposition Whip) (11:42): I am very happy to speak in support of the motion put forward by my good friend the member for Franklin. Mahatma Gandhi once said that the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members. Older Australians who require care, either in their own homes or in residential aged care, are some of society's most vulnerable. Often our mothers, they are also our fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles, and they don't have a voice on so many occasions. So I'm honoured to speak on this motion in the Chamber today in support of some of our most vulnerable Australians. This Turnbull government is shamefully treating too many older Australians with something verging on contempt.

Back in May, we saw the Turnbull government wax lyrical about how they were looking after older Australians by promising 14,000 new in-home care packages over the next four years. What they didn't say was that the funding for those 14,000 in-home care packages is coming from existing funding for residential aged care. This out-of-touch Prime Minister has reduced beds in residential aged care to pay for in-home care packages. We have an ageing population and an aged-care crisis created by the Turnbull government, a government that has shown itself to be both underhanded and irresponsible, and we have those opposite laughing at this.

By 2025, the projected gap between available residential aged-care places and consumers who will actually need those places will be 94,200 places—that is, 94,200 older Australians will need residential aged care and won't be able to get it. This is a festering national disgrace, and the blame will fall squarely at the feet of this out-of-touch government. Prime Minister Turnbull and his cronies have created this aged-care crisis. They have ignored—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Bird ): The member for Goldstein, on a point of order?

Mr Tim Wilson: He used the term 'cronies'. I think that's a completely unacceptable way to refer to other members of parliament in this place.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: It's an expressive term, but it is not outside the parliamentary rules.

Mr PERRETT: The word 'crony' in the dictionary says 'a close friend or companion'. If you're saying that you're not the Prime Minister's close friend or companion, I'm happy to take that interjection. Come in spinner.

This Prime Minister and his cronies have created this aged-care crisis. They have ignored this aged-care crisis, and the 2018 budget failed to fix this aged-care crisis. Yet, like fake news on steroids, they have pretended to actually do something. Duplicity and ignoring that there is a crisis will not make this crisis go away. Using smoke and mirrors to pretend to announce extra funding for aged care will not change the bottom line, which is that there is no extra money allocated for the growing cohort of older Australians needing care. A budget announcement of 14,000 extra home care packages is laughable, as the waiting list nationally for home care packages grew by 20,000 in the last six months of 2017, as my good friend the member for Franklin would know.

However, suddenly we don’t get up-to-date figures, because the Minister for Aged Care has not released the data for the first quarter of this year. That quarter ended in March, almost three months ago. We know the department has previously committed to releasing the data two months after the end of that quarter. The release of the data is now a month late. What is the minister hiding? The last data that was released, now six months old, revealed almost 105,000 older Australians were waiting for a home care package, with the average wait time for a high-level package blowing out to more than a year. As I saw in Eight Mile Plains—I was having a barbecue on the weekend—this causes heartache inside families. It's just a piece of data for those opposite; it's a heart-aching story for the real Australians who are actually trying to get their family into some sort of caring environment.

Sadly, we know that older Australians don't have time. They don't have the years to wait to get the care that they need now. Sadly, we have a government that can find $80 billion for tax cuts for big business, including $17 billion to get to the big banks—which were not struggling the last time I looked—but they can't get one extra cent to give to older Australians.

We know the Prime Minister has no idea how important the work of caring for our elderly is. We saw that in question time last week, with his cruel and insensitive advice to those who care for our aged was that they 'should aspire to get a better job'. I think the advice was to someone in Braddon. How incredible. The Prime Minister needs to spend some time in one of our world-class aged-care facilities—not just one of those selfie flash-mob fleeting visits—actually sitting down and talking to people who provide aged care. Then he might have an understand of how difficult this crisis is. (Time expired)