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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 13981

Mr CONROY (Shortland) (16:01): This will be one of the last times before the election that I speak in the House, and I wanted to highlight an issue of real concern for the people I represent in this place. Shortland is one of the oldest electorates in Australia—over one in five of my constituents are over the age of 60. So aged care, both home care and residential care, is a big concern for my constituents, and, unfortunately, so many of them are being let down by the system.

For the record, I want to state that the coalition are no friends of senior Australians. This is abundantly clear in their cuts to the pension and in the Prime Minister's gigantic $1.2 billion cut to aged care when he was the Treasurer. They arrogantly proclaim at every opportunity that they are the party of older Australians, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The most pressing issue my constituents contact me about is the lack of adequate home care packages. I want to draw the attention of the House to two particular constituents who have recently contacted me. Edna is the carer for her husband, Wally, who has Parkinson's disease, unfortunately. They are both in their 80s. Edna and Wally were approved for a level 4 home care package in August last year, but my office has been advised that the wait for these packages is over 12 months. Edna is grateful for the support she gets with Wally currently, but she does really struggle. She is not sleeping properly; she often has to call nieces and nephews who live nearby for assistance; and she has had to stop going to church.

In her own words, Edna has said: 'I feel like it would be easier to keep going if I could get out and do things, but everything just has to stop, and it's not easy. I understand there is a long wait and there are people worse off than us. But you make these choices to try and stay at home, and it's very hard.' Anyone who heard this would have had to have a fairly cold heart not to have been affected—a loving wife doing her best to care for her husband and really struggling.

What I find so frustrating is that Edna and Wally have been approved to get extra support and services in their home, and there is a waiting list for these services that is entirely unacceptable. As I said, there is a waiting list of over 100,000 places; there were aged-care cuts by the Prime Minister when he was Treasurer of $1.2 billion. My constituents are having to enter residential facilities rather than being able to stay at home and receive the home care they need and have been approved to receive.

Older Australians who want to continue to live in their home deserve so much better than what they are receiving. There is much talk of dignity and respect for older Australians, but the consequences of almost six years of Liberal government are being felt by my constituents. This is another damning indictment upon this government.