Thursday, 11 February 2010
Matters of Public Importance
In the minute and a half that I think I now have, I first of all want to take this opportunity to completely dispel any thinking that people listening to this debate may have that the recognition and care—particularly recognition—by the government or by the community at large of our older Australians is merely the thought of those opposite. I take offence at that, and I want to put that completely straight immediately. It is not a political plaything to say, ‘We care about older Australians more than you do.’ I think we all do. And I think the actions of the government—in the past, currently and into the future—reflect that.
When we talk about health issues, this government has, for the first time in many years of government in this country I think, actually talked about preventative health programs—something that will really assist our older people with living active, participatory lives into their future. Secondly, it is completely correct to say that older Australians, should they wish to work longer, should be allowed to and encouraged to. At the same time, should they not be in a position to have to or should they not wish to, their work in our community, contributing in other ways, is equally valuable, equally measured and equally recognised. What some of our younger members of the community might care to do is step up to the voluntary roles that a lot of those older people are doing and to assist them in carrying that work out.