Thursday, 13 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question's to the Minister for Health. The minister just boasted about 10,000 more home-care packages, only half of which are currently available; 28,000 older Australians died while waiting for their approved home-care package in just two years. Surely Australians who've contributed all of their lives deserve better. Will the minister admit now that 5,000 packages in response to a waiting list of over 112,000 amounts to neglect?
I want to respond to the member with a very clear position. What we have done we have done based on advice as to what is the safest way to implement, to respond rapidly and to respond to the royal commission. The Prime Minister called a royal commission as one of his first actions, precisely to bring to light all the potential issues. The commission has done a fantastic job. And in responding to and accepting all the commission's interim findings, we made two points in relation to home care: (1) 10,000 places, which is part of a 40,000-place increase in the past two years, or an increase from 60,000 to 150,000—a 150 per cent increase whilst we have been in government; and (2) accepting their proposal for a broader strategic restructure, and we are working to prepare for that, but of course we will have to see what the commission themselves recommend as their final recommendation. But we got on with it immediately.
And I would remind the House that at the same time we have increased the number of home-care places by 150 per cent, that has been at a dramatically faster rate than the rate at which the number of older Australians has grown. That means we have a far higher per capita rate of home-care places for older Australians than ever existed under Labor when they were in government. Labor had a chance during the course of the royal commission to match what we were doing, and they failed: zero places—not one, not a dollar—on something that they now seem to believe matters after the royal commission had been called. I would call what they did at the last election 'neglect'.