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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4963

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (20:15): I rise tonight to talk about the government's so-called attempt at aged-care reform—and it is 'so-called' because, once again, they seem to be talking the talk but not walking the walk. We have already heard how the funding for the package will not start until after the next election. If they are serious about reforming this sector they should have got started straight away. Everyone knows that we need reform in the aged-care sector. The government know that, they have known it since 2007, yet they have continued to delay reform. We have now had the Productivity Commission do a thorough report that shows clearly what needs to be done with this sector. And what is the government's announcement? Let's postpone it all till after the next election. It seems that every time there is a hard decision to be made, unless the Greens are there behind them forcing their hand the government just walk away from the serious priority issues which the Australian community are calling out for work on. When it comes to the carbon tax, they are quite happy to put extra costs on the aged-care sector. But when it comes to reforming the aged-care sector so it can continue to grow and develop and meet the ever-growing demands on it, this government postpones.

The member for Aston in his speech identified some positive things which were identified in the Productivity Commission report and which the government have talked about—in particular, the existing number of home care packages which will be boosted from 60,000 to 100,000 over five years. Both sides of parliament recognise the need for in-home care and I think that initiative will deliver that. It is just a pity that it is not starting tomorrow, because that is what should be happening. The government should have been able to look at the Productivity Commission report, grab it, use the budget to deliver the money and get started on this important reform work. Instead, what did we get? We got procrastination. Sadly, it will mean that the aged-care sector suffers for another year or so.

There is a real need for action now, and I have seen this firsthand. I would like to take my hat off to the shadow minister for aged care, Senator Connie Fierravanti-Wells, who came down to Wannon last month and met with the aged-care sector there. It was interesting to hear the wide variety of views and opinions from across the electorate. We met some of the small, more isolated aged-care providers, the not-for-profits, and we heard about their fears and anxieties about where the system is at the moment. Then we met some of the larger players in the bigger regional centres and heard about their issues. What they want is certainty. They want certainty that the smaller not-for-profits will be able to continue within the system laid out by the government and, in particular, they seemed to be very, very perturbed that this government was not going to be putting any additional money into the system until after the next election. We were able to tell them that if the coalition wins the next election we will not wait, we will not leave them hanging—we will get straight on with implementing this reform package. From the small not-for-profits to the larger aged-care providers, they were very glad to hear that.

We like the idea of getting the packages for home care increased, but apart from that there is not much which the government has to offer in what it is doing here. I, along with the aged-care sector, hope that we will win the next election so that we can start the reform process immediately with this important work that needs doing.