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Tuesday, 2 April 2019
Page: 14516


Mr WYATT (HasluckMinister for Senior Australians and Aged Care and Minister for Indigenous Health) (18:35): The Australian population is ageing, and senior Australians and their families deserve to have access to high-quality aged care and services when they need them. Integral to this is supporting approved providers to make residential aged-care places ready for use as quickly as possible. The comments that were offered by the shadow minister are not a true reflection of the reality that has occurred since the Productivity Commission report. The challenges that are embedded in the aged-care sector arise from the time of the Productivity Commission report, the choosing of its recommendations that Labor, at the time, thought were appropriate, and inadequate funding that has been provided over that period of time. In addition, at the time, there was a reduction to the bottom-line budget by Labor over three consecutive years. I won't go into the level of funding. It was never put back in.

Our coalition government has focused on increasing the spend on aged care—$5 billion in the last budget. There will be a continuation, in the forward years, of our commitment to improving the outcomes for senior Australians. The royal commission was not called because the system failed. The royal commission was called to address the structural flaws that exist within the aged-care sector. The commentary around the loss of funding is to do with inappropriate behaviour by providers against the budget that was set within the budgetary processes. Labor's continued claims were refuted by Fact Check on two occasions. It made it very clear that the statements were not the truth, because the budget for aged care has continually improved, and it continues to grow.

Ms Collins: It's in black and white in your own budget statements.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): Order! The minister has the call.

Mr WYATT: The portfolio budget statements show the increase in budget expenditure by our government, unlike what the shadow minister says. We will take the construct and build it into a very simple process of providing the authority of the parliament to move provisionally allocated places to areas of need that are important, because, at the moment, we can't do that. This enables it. Constructing aged-care homes is a difficult, time-consuming and expensive exercise. It's not uncommon for providers to finish their aged-care homes with fewer rooms than originally intended, due to either planning or construction issues. Where this is the case, the Aged Care Act needs to be flexible enough to allow these leftover places to be moved to another suitable location.

Similarly, a provider may find a more suitable or affordable location for an aged-care home a few minutes drive away from the planning region to which the places were originally allocated. Again, the act needs to be flexible enough to allow this. The amendments within this bill add to the flexibility to act by allowing provisionally allocated residential aged-care places to be moved from one region to another where a provider can demonstrate that the movement is in the interests of aged-care consumers, that there is a clear need for places in the new region and that it is not detrimental to the region to which the provisionally allocated places are currently allocated. This change is in the best interests of all older Australians and the broader community. It will remove a potential barrier to the community accessing residential aged care, thereby aligning with the government's commitment to ensuring delivery of high-quality aged-care services when and where they're needed. I thank the members and senators for their contributions to the debate on this bill.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.