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Tuesday, 11 February 2020
Page: 836


Mr HUNT (FlindersMinister for Health and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service and Cabinet) (15:23): I'm delighted to take this MPI, because since the 2018-19 budget this government has invested in an extra 44,000 home-care packages, at a cost of $2.7 billion. When the opposition had the chance to be an alternative government, how much did they allocate at the last election, less than a year ago? Zero places. So 44,000 versus zero places. That's the reality. It's important to remember that they had $387 billion in extra taxes, but not 10,000, not 8,000, not 6,000, not 4,000 and not 2,000 places—zero places. We've invested in an extra 44,000 places since the 2018-19 budget. For all of their hyperbole, when they believed that they were about to become the government and were preparing to be in government, they had not one extra home-care place. If you want an example of extraordinary hubris, systemic hypocrisy and an utter failure of policy and priority, the Australian Labor Party's zero home-care places at the last election stands as a totemic failure and a totemic figure. In addition to that, we've taken—

Mr Shorten interjecting

Mr HUNT: I'll take the member for Maribyrnong on, because he was the leader at the time: Mr Zero, when it comes to home care places. We have gone from 60,000 places, when Labor was last in, to 150,000 places at the moment. That's a growth of 150 per cent, dramatically outstripping the increase in the population in that age group. In the last two years alone what we've seen is a dramatic increase in the places and a 13 per cent decrease in waiting times. These are our tasks and our responsibilities, in our time, and absolutely we take those on. Sixty thousand to 150,000—that's 150 per cent growth, dramatically outstripping the rate of growth of those in the aged-care cohort.

In addition to that, we did call a royal commission. We called a royal commission for a very real reason: we looked at the systemic challenges over decades. That royal commission has made a series of interim findings, and we've accepted all of them and we've acted on all of them. We've taken, immediately, an investment decision of $537 million, including an additional 10,000 home care places at $496 million. We've also had $25 million to improve medication management. We're the ones that have taken this challenge on—nobody else at no other time—and we've embraced and accepted the recommendations and the findings of the royal commission through the interim process. There's $10 million to increase support for dementia behaviour management through advisory services; $4.7 million to help younger people, under 65 years, to move from residential aged care to more age appropriate support.

These are things that are actually happening. At the very moment when the member for Maribyrnong and the shadow minister sought to take control of the country and sought to take control of the aged-care system, they gave zero: zero, zero between them. That's an extraordinary indictment on the priorities that they have. Over the period, we've put in 44,000 and they've put in zero. Over the period since we've been in government: 60,000 to 150,000 home care places. Calling a royal commission: with all of the reality that it will make difficult findings for Australia, and we embrace what they have done.

Let me look at what we've also done. In terms of residential aged care, when Labor was in power there were 186,000 places. We have increased that now to this year 219,000 and next year 226,000 or from $9 billion to $13.3 billion of investment. Those increases are significant. It's part of a much broader increase from $13 billion to almost $22 billion, $23 billion, $24 billion and $25 billion, a near doubling of funding over the course since Labor left government. This is at a faster rate than inflation, at a faster rate than the vast majority of areas of government investment. We did inherit a system with great challenges and we have made, successively, very significant increases: a near doubling of funding, a 1½-fold increase in the home care places.

Let me ask the opposition this question: what was the rate of home care per person, over the age of 75, under you as opposed to us? It's been dramatically higher under this government. It's not just the raw numbers; the rate is dramatically higher. We are providing higher numbers, a higher rate and a reduction in the waiting times. Those are the important things. At the same time, we are investing in younger people living in residential aged care. The royal commission identified what has been a longstanding challenge over some decades now. It set out three goals, and we have accepted all of those: no people under the age of 65 entering residential aged care by 2022, no people under the age of 45 living in residential aged care by 2022 and no people under the age of 65 living in residential aged care by 2025. These are all extremely important things.

One of the other things I want to deal with, because it's been raised on a number of occasions, is some sort of indication—this is the first time I have had these figures, so I think they will be very important and informative to the House. The opposition has tried to indicate that people who were looking to be on a home care package had not been receiving them. In fact, the latest advice that I have is that 98 per cent of senior Australians who are waiting for a package at their assessed level had been offered support from the government, and that continues to be the case. Most significantly, the opposition has tried to indicate that, in some way, that led to people dying. That is a shameful accusation. But what I have not had before is a comparison of the figures of the average rate of death for those in the general population who are 75 years and over, and the average rate of death for those who are 75 and over and who are looking for home care support. At this point in time, there is a six per cent general population loss of life for those 75 and over and 5.2 per cent for those who are actually seeking additional home care support. I say that because we have a great task, but I wanted to deal with what has been a shameful, disgraceful, disgusting and dishonest accusation. I think it is time to deal with that; I had not previously seen those figures and I had not previously received those figures.

Let us set out what is an important matter. Firstly, we called a royal commission that nobody else had ever done before. We called that royal commission on our watch, in our time, because we believed that historic challenges needed to be addressed and they needed to be addressed in a way which had never been done before and on a scale which had never been done before. As a consequence of that, we accepted all of the findings of the interim report. We have acted on those findings with over $500 million of investment, including younger people, including medication management and including home care.

More broadly, in terms of home care, what have we done? There has been an up to 150 per cent increase so far from 60,000 places under Labor to 150,000 places now. And, as we've done that, we've made sure that 98 per cent of those people seeking places have been offered support. But we are doing more work—44,000 place since the 2018 budget versus zero. I think that's the thing that this House must recognise more than any other. The two people with responsibility and control when Labor went to the last election are sitting there on the front bench opposite at this moment: the member for Maribyrnong and the shadow minister. At the time that they had the capacity to invest, they chose zero—zero places, zero investment. And that is what they will have to live with. In our time, on our watch, there have been 44,000 places and $2.7 billion extra since the 2018 budget—a 150 per cent increase since we came to government, and all up, going from $13 billion—

Mr Shorten: Fake news there, mate. You're making it up.

Mr HUNT: All of these are facts, and, if you want to challenge any of those facts, you are entitled to. But it was $13 billion under them, and what we see now is almost $22 billion, $23 billion, $24 billion and $25 billion, over the course of the forward estimates—a near doubling of funds and a 150 per cent increase in places. They're the things that make the difference. (Time expired)