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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2911

Aged Care


Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:31): My question is to Senator McKenzie, the Minister representing the Minister for Aged Care. We'll have another go. When asked yesterday how many Commonwealth-supported residential aged-care places the Turnbull government has cut to fund its attempt to address its blowout in the waiting list for in-home aged-care packages, the minister confused residential aged care with in-home aged-care packages. Given the minister has had 24 hours to check, can she now tell the Senate how many Commonwealth-supported residential aged-care places the Turnbull government cut in its budget on Tuesday night?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaMinister for Rural Health, Minister for Sport, Minister for Regional Communications and Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (14:32): I don't need to revise. We haven't cut any places to residential aged care. And I'm very happy to explain why the numbers are different, okay?

Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Order on my left! Please resume your set, Senator McKenzie. Order on my left. Senator McKenzie.

Senator McKENZIE: The figures referred to on page 139 of the PBS about supporting people in residential aged care do have an increase year on year, and they're labelled 'places'. But, when you actually unpack that, they're about the forecasts over the forwards of the beds that are going to be occupied at that time. So there is a difference between the forecast at the last budget on the residential beds being occupied as opposed to the forecasts for these forwards. And do you know why? Because they weren't being filled. Australians, as they age, want to stay at home for longer. And so, to meet those demands, we've invested in an additional 14,000 high-quality care packages. We've added another component to the aged-care level of care so that those Australians who do not want to go into residential aged care and take up one of these forecasted places will have high-quality care, often on a daily basis over a longer period of time, to support them to stay independent and in their homes longer.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Watt, a supplementary question?





Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:33): Yesterday the minister also told the Senate:

… to say there is a waiting list of 100,000 is actually incorrect.

Does the minister stand by her statement, and, if so, why does the government's own Home Care Packages Program data report published in March say there are 104,602 older Australians on the waiting list?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaMinister for Rural Health, Minister for Sport, Minister for Regional Communications and Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (14:34): On the national waiting list for aged-care packages there are over 104,000 Australians, but 50 per cent of those older Australians are already receiving a home-care package.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong on a point of order?

Senator Wong: The minister has just acknowledged that her answer yesterday was incorrect. She should have corrected the record as soon as she become aware. Her statement was: 'To say there is a waiting list of 100,000 is actually incorrect.' She should have corrected the record.

Senator Ian Macdonald interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! On my right. Senator Macdonald.

Senator Wong: This is about parliamentary responsibility. This is about ministerial accountability, and I actually care about that, Senator Macdonald.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, please don't take the interjections. Senator Cormann, on the point of order.

Senator Cormann: This is Senate question time. Senator McKenzie answered the question in good faith yesterday and she is answering the question in good faith today. If the Labor Party is concerned about the answers, they've got to get better at asking questions.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: I know it's budget week, but I'm not going to let the Senate proceed while there are interjections on points of order while they are being raised, to the point where other senators will not be able to hear them. On the point of order, Senator Wong, I believe that is a debating point. There are opportunities to do that. I believe Senator McKenzie is being directly relevant to the question, and I call her to continue.

Senator McKENZIE: I think it is misleading the Senate to come in here and talk about cuts to aged-care residential places and cuts in aged-care funding when that is actually not the case. I'm happy to run through the record investment, the increase in residential places, the increase in home-care packages and the increase in significant investment over the forwards into the aged-care sector.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Watt, a final supplementary question.











Senator WATT (Queensland) (14:37): Thank you, Mr President. Given that the minister clearly doesn't understand the difference between residential and in-home aged care and has dismissed the 100,000 older Australians waiting to access in-home aged-care packages, is it any wonder that the Turnbull government has demonstrably failed to address its blowout in the waiting list and the inhumane standards older Australians are suffering under in residential aged-care facilities?


Senator McKENZIE (VictoriaMinister for Rural Health, Minister for Sport, Minister for Regional Communications and Deputy Leader of The Nationals) (14:37): I am very proud to be part of a government that is investing a record amount of Australian taxpayers' dollars in ensuring that our older Australians have choices around how they age and where they age. We are addressing the very real fact that they prefer to stay in their home; we are going to support them to do that. We are investing significant money in keeping them active. We are addressing the recommendations of the Tune review. We are delivering 14,000 home-care packages of very high quality and 13½ thousand additional residential packages. I am very proud of that investment.