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Wednesday, 9 May 2018
Page: 3478

Ms COLLINS (Franklin) (15:56): It appeared from question time today that the government wants to hide so many figures from its budget. It didn't seem very proud of it today. Clearly, when it comes to aged care, it shouldn't be proud, because there's not one new cent for aged care in this budget. Despite what the government said in the speech last night and despite what the government continued to say in question time today, there is not one new extra dollar for aged care in Australia from yesterday to today. We have the government come in here and talk about $80 billion in tax cuts for big business. Even though they won't tell us what the number is, they want us to vote for it. But they're happy to come in here and pretend that they're giving new money to aged care, particularly to home care packages.

I and my colleagues on this side have been calling for the government to do something about the wait for aged care home care packages for over a year. We could see the waitlist growing and growing and growing and, quite frankly, an additional 14,000 packages over four years does not cut it when there are 105,000 older Australians sitting on that waiting list today. They are not going to get these packages any earlier because of this budget, and the government should stop pretending that they will. They should stop pretending that this is going to provide the packages any earlier. The wait time for these packages at the moment is over 12 months. I've got examples of people contacting me who have been waiting longer than that. This budget is not going to help that waiting list.

In six months last year that list grew by 20,000. There were 20,000 people added to the waitlist. After pressure from us, the government said: 'We'd better do something about it. We'll put on 6,000 new packages.' The waitlist is still 105,000. What does the government think is going to happen in the next four years when it adds only 14,000 new packages? How long does the government want this waitlist to grow? When it claims it has got $40 billion in new revenue and when it can afford to give $80 billion in tax cuts to big business, you would think it could do something about the home care waiting lists that it talks about and pretends that it's going to help older Australians with. It's not okay to play this cruel hoax on older Australians and pretend that they're going to get home care packages sooner and pretend that you've spent more money in aged care when you have not. It is absolutely not okay.

They seem to want to hide a few figures, as I said earlier. In the Senate in question time today we asked some questions about these home care packages. In particular, we asked the government about the waitlist. We had Senator Bridget McKenzie deny that 105,000 people are waiting on the waitlist, despite Treasurer Morrison saying on radio today that there are indeed 105,000 people on the waitlist. Never mind, I'm sure they'll work it out. That interview today was really interesting because Sabra Lane, on AM, actually took the Treasurer to task about the waitlist, and quite rightly, because it is a hoax. She asked him about the waitlist and how this is actually going to help. He had to admit that there's more work to be done. Of course there's more work to be done, Treasurer. There seems to be plenty of money for big business but no new money for aged care.

I'm just astounded that they continue to come into this House and the other place and pretend that there's new money for aged care, and pretend to older Australians, their families and their carers that somehow the aged-care package they're waiting for is going to turn up sooner, because it's not. It's not. It is just unbelievable. Today, when we asked a question about how many residential aged-care places they are going to cut to fund this, they wouldn't answer it. They wouldn't answer it. They don't want people to know how many residential aged-care places they are going to cut to juggle the deckchairs on the ship. People are not going to get services any sooner, because 14,000 over four years is not going to be enough. Now they want to cut residential aged-care places to pay for it. That's what they are doing in this budget. Older Australians will not be conned by this government's cruel hoax of a budget. I will continue to lobby every day for the older Australians on that waitlist.