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Wednesday, 24 July 2019
Page: 830

Mrs ANDREWS (McPhersonMinister for Industry, Science and Technology) (10:46): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

Today I am introducing the Aged Care Amendment (Movement of Provisionally Allocated Places) Bill 2019.

This bill will amend the Aged Care Act 1997to allow the movement of provisionally allocated residential care places from one determined aged-care planning region (region) to another.

The Liberal-National government (the government) is committed to ensuring all older Australians have access to high-quality aged care and services when they need it. Integral to this is supporting approved providers to make residential aged-care places ready for use as quickly as possible.

The government has overarching responsibility for delivery of aged-care services across the country, as part of an end-to-end system covering both residential and in-home aged care. A key policy objective for the government is to ensure that residential aged care is available to those older Australians who require it as quickly as possible, and appropriately allocated to regions to address local needs.

Through a competitive process, residential aged-care places are provisionally allocated to approved providers by the secretary of the Department of Health (the department) or a delegate in a region that has a demonstrated need for these services.

Constructing aged-care homes is a difficult, time-consuming and expensive exercise. It takes on average 4.3 years for providers to acquire land, obtain planning approval and construct an aged-care home.

Following an allocation of places, providers can often have difficulties locating suitable land and navigating local government planning processes. It is not uncommon for suitable land to be located just outside a planning region, or for local councils to decide, for example, that a planned 120-bed aged-care home should only be 100 beds.

In such circumstances, operationalising places in the current region may not always be feasible, but by moving them to another region the approved provider can often make them available to older Australians more quickly. This is not, however, permissible under the current legislation.

The amendments within this bill seek to amend the legislation to allow 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 and there is a clear need for places in the new region.

This bill also makes it clear that, in considering any such applications, the department will also consider the needs of the region from which it is proposed to transfer the provisionally allocated places. In particular, the department will ensure that this does not become a mechanism for moving residential aged-care places out of regional areas of high need to metropolitan areas with a lower need.

This change is in the best interests of all older Australians and the broader community. It will remove a potential barrier to the community in accessing residential aged care, thereby aligning with the government's commitment to ensuring delivery of high-quality aged care and services when and where they are needed.

This bill was introduced into the previous parliament on 13 February 2019. Whilst it passed the House of Representatives, the bill lapsed as it was not debated in the Senate prior to the election being called.

Debate adjourned.