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Monday, 24 May 2021
Page: 159


Ms SHARKIE (Mayo) (16:46): I move:

That:

(1) a joint select committee, to be known as the Joint Select Committee on Oversight of the Implementation of Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety be established to inquire into and report upon:

(a) the Government response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission, including the development of a new Act to replace the Aged Care Act 1997 and the establishment and operation of a new person-centred Aged Care system which focuses on the safety, health and wellbeing of older people; and

(b) any matter in relation to the Royal Commission's recommendations referred to the committee by a resolution of either House of the Parliament;

(2) the committee present its final report on or before the final sitting day of the 46th Parliament;

(3) the committee consist of nine members—four senators, and five members of the House of Representatives, as follows:

(a) two members of the House of the Representatives to be nominated by the Government Whip or Whips;

(b) two members of the House of Representatives to be nominated by the Opposition Whip or Whips;

(c) two senators to be nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate;

(d) one senator to be nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate;

(e) one senator to be nominated by any minority party or independent senator; and

(f) one member of the House of Representatives nominated by any minority party or independent member;

(4) participating members may:

(a) be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Government Whip in the House of Representatives, the Opposition Whip in the House of Representatives, the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator or member of the House of Representatives; and

(b) participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee;

(5) every nomination of a member of the committee be notified in writing to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives;

(6) the members of the committee hold office as a joint select committee until presentation of the committee's final report or until the House of Representatives is dissolved or expires by effluxion of time, whichever is the earlier;

(7) the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that all members have not been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy;

(8) the committee elect:

(a) a Government member as its chair; and

(b) a non-Government member as its deputy chair who shall act as chair of the committee at any time when the chair is not present at a meeting of the committee; and

(c) at any time when the chair and deputy chair are not present at a meeting of the committee, the members present shall elect another member to act as chair at that meeting;

(9) in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, shall have a casting vote;

(10) three members of the committee constitute a quorum of the committee provided that in a deliberative meeting the quorum shall include one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House;

(11) the committee have power to:

(a) appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine; and

(b) appoint the chair of each subcommittee who shall have a casting vote only;

(12) two members of a subcommittee constitute the quorum of that subcommittee, provided that in a deliberative meeting the quorum shall include one Government member of either House and one non-Government member of either House;

(13) the committee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit;

(14) the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives;

(15) the committee be empowered to print from day to day such papers and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public;

(16) the committee have power to adjourn from time to time and to sit during any adjournment of the Senate and the House of Representatives;

(17) the provisions of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing orders; and

(18) a message be sent to the Senate seeking its concurrence in this resolution.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety final report comprises 148 recommendations, setting out the pathway for a future system of aged care with older Australians at its heart. In handing down its response to the report the government has accepted 107 of its recommendations and another 19 in principle. Ten were flagged for further consideration.

I must say that I am disappointed that the government has rejected Commissioner Pagone's recommendation to establish an independent aged-care commission. I believe that this important area of public policy deserves its own commission rather than the aged-care system remaining within the remit of the Department of Health. In handing down the 2021-22 federal budget the government has committed an additional $17.7 billion to deliver generational change to the aged-care system. My fervent hope is this will be a system that affords everyone the care, dignity and respect that they deserve.

But we all know the devil is always in the detail. The budget commits $6.5 billion to an additional 80,000 home-care packages to help older Australians to stay in their homes for longer, and that's what many tell me they want to do. The budget allows for 40,000 packages per year over the next two years, but this means little if packages aren't available because the providers and care workers aren't where they need to be to meet the demand. That's why the $10.8 million investment promised to design and plan a new support and home-care program in that 2021-22 year will be vital.

The commitment to grow the skilled, professional and compassionate aged-care workforce is laudable, but without measures to address low pay in the sector it is going to be a difficult challenge. With disability support workers earning 25 per cent more than aged-care workers, it's clear that we need to address this gap. There is an opportunity for government to actively grow this workforce by supporting the aged-care work value case presented before Fair Work Australia.

The government has also committed to invest $10 per resident per day in residential aged care for improved food quality and nutrition. However, there is no way for government or the taxpayer to ensure that this money is spent as intended. I receive many complaints from my constituents regarding the quality of food in aged care, and I'm told that at one aged-care facility at least in my electorate, even when a resident goes to hospital—in one case, for months at a time—they are still invoiced for food that is never eaten. As I said when the report came out, this additional funding cannot be a blank cheque for aged-care providers. Greater transparency means we need to ensure providers are accountable and give old people real care controls and choice.

That's why I've moved this motion calling for an establishment of a joint select committee so that we can work together in a bipartisan way with oversight of the implementation of the royal commission's recommendations. This will be a true working group focused on meeting the needs of our older Australians. The joint select committee will comprise representatives from the government, from opposition, from independents and minor parties and importantly, come from both chambers, and it would ensure the redesign of the aged-care system is afforded the highest priority.

We can make sure that the royal commission report does not suffer the same fate of tens of reports before it and sit on the shelf until the media reports on the next crisis that should have been addressed decades ago. For us to plan for, design and deliver a new aged-care system with care, dignity and respect for older Australians at its heart, we need to grasp the nettle. The time is now, and the shared responsibility is all of ours—every single one of us that sits in either one of these chambers. I've said before that we cannot wait for a new aged-care system and we need to come together to ensure that it achieves the very best outcomes for the most vulnerable Australians.

And so I urge people to put party politics aside. Let's all work together—both chambers, all sides—and put older Australians front and centre in this place.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Claydon ): Is there a seconder for the motion?