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Thursday, 15 November 2018
Page: 8328


Senator ABETZ (Tasmania) (15:25): The cynical use of older Australians by the Australian Labor Party is to be condemned. The simple fact is that, under the previous Labor government, there was no home care approval list. So that of which the Labor Party complain is something they never thought of in government and never implemented, which as a result meant that senior Australians were left in the dark and subjected to unbearable delays in assessment and home care support. When quoting statistics, it's a bit like skimpy bathers: what they show is interesting; what they hide is vital. And what Senator Polley's speech has done is hide that which is vital.

Senator Polley: I rise on a point of order, Madam Deputy President. That was a totally disrespectful analysis. Senator Abetz's pathetic attempt—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Polley, that is not a point of order. Please resume your seat.

Senator ABETZ: You know you've got them between the eyes when they make an absolutely vacuous point of order such as that.

Senator Polley: We'll see who has it between the eyes at the next election.

Senator ABETZ: The honourable senator knows exactly what I am about to say. While you are attacking Mr Morrison personally, I advise you that the Liberal-National Party government is rolling out an additional 14,000 higher level packages.

Senator Polley: Fourteen thousand over three years.

Senator ABETZ: That began on 1 July. They are being rolled out as we speak. Senator Polley, with her insistent interjections, would hope the Australian people are not informed of this information. But I just happen to have the microphone for a few minutes, so I will repeat the fact that there are going to be 14,000 additional high-level packages. They are being rolled out and have been as of 1 July. We will grow overall home care packages from 87,000 to 151,000 over the next four years. So there is a plan. The plan is being implemented. We are seeking to serve the needs—

Senator Polley interjecting

Senator Reynolds: I rise on a point of order, Madam Deputy President. Senator Polley had her opportunity to speak and take note. I think she is now interjecting more than Senator Abetz is actually speaking. I would also point out, on her point of order—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Reynolds, thank you—

Senator Reynolds: that Senator Polley was the one who yesterday—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Reynolds, resume your seat, please. Senator Reynolds, when I ask you to resume your seat, I expect you to do so. Senators do have the right to be heard in silence, so let's continue with that.

Senator ABETZ: And, to assist me being heard in silence, I note that Senator Polley's wisely removing herself from the chamber.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Abetz, I do remind you that it is not appropriate to refer to whether senators are in or out of the chamber. You have no idea what may or may not be in their diaries, so do not make that reference.

Senator ABETZ: I wasn't reflecting on whether she was in or out; I was just reflecting on the fact that she was removing herself.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Abetz, I've asked you not to do that. When I asked you not to do that, you simply repeated it. Please continue.

Senator ABETZ: The facts are, which the Labor Party just don't like hearing, that up to three-quarters of the people on the national list are receiving some form of Commonwealth aged-care support, in any event. Is there a backlog? Yes. What did we inherit from the Australian Labor Party? It was a system that did not even have a proper, orderly list. So people were left in mayhem, uncertainty and insecurity. We are seeking to deal with that by allocating further funds and by telling the Australian people in the aged-care sector what they're entitled to with what is in the scheme of things a relatively small proportion of $8.2 million out of $5,500 million. Do the percentages on that; it's a minuscule percentage. To advise them as to what they actually might be entitled to and how the system is going to be rolled out is something that I think is appropriate.

If the Australian Labor Party were genuinely concerned about older Australians, they would repudiate and cancel their policy in relation to the treatment of franked dividends for those Australians who are seeking to prepare for their own retirement to ensure that they are not a burden on their fellow Australians. But what Mr Shorten and the Australian Labor Party are seeking to do is double-tax our older Australians who so heavily rely, through their self-managed super fund, their own investment or indeed other retirement schemes, on the benefit of getting a reimbursement of tax that is already paid. For many thousands of Australians, that impacts people on an income of less than $18,000. The vast bulk of people who will be impacted will be people who earn less than $87,000 per annum, not the filthy rich. But they're the people from whose pockets Mr Shorten and the Australian Labor Party will be pilfering money to put into Labor's spending spree.

Let's be very clear: when it comes to the actual issue that Senator Polley sought to address, the government has a plan. We are caring for more and more Australians and we will continue to do so on the back of sound economic management. (Time expired)