Thursday, 13 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Health. The aged-care royal commission drew attention to inadequate prevention and management of wounds, sometimes leading to septicaemia and death, and aged-care residents sitting or lying in urine and faeces. Why are older Australians suffering from this neglect?
The royal commission's report was absolutely confronting. It talked about neglect over decades, and it talked about the situation which needed to be addressed. That is why we adopted every one of the royal commission's findings. Not only did we call the royal commission, not only was this one of the Prime Minister's first actions—the opposition have staged and shown an utter hypocrisy in their approach today. That is because when they had a chance only a few months ago—
In terms of those recommendations, not only have we adopted all of the findings of the interim report but it stands in stark contrast to the utter hypocrisy and failure of the opposition. Given a chance only a few months ago, they could have provided one. How many home care places did they provide? Zero! In terms of the other items within the royal commission, it is an uncomfortable truth for the opposition. They had a chance and their provision was zero. But in terms of all of the findings of the—
The point of order is that he is defying your ruling. The question did not go to alternatives at all. It is a serious question. It wasn't a politically laden question. It was a straight question.
Government members interjecting—
Members on my right! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat.
Honourable members interjecting—
Members on both sides will cease interjecting.
Mr Burke interjecting—
The Manager of Opposition Business! I am going to say that I do follow these questions very carefully. I understand the point the Leader of the Opposition is trying to make, and I've made that point when there's been very specific questions that don't ask for alternatives, that don't have political commentary in them. When a question has a final line that is really going to the criticism or talking about neglect, it does open things up somewhat. But I do say to the minister that the question didn't ask for alternatives. Ministers are allowed to compare and contrast briefly, but the question went very much to the government's approach. I call the minister.
Mr Speaker, you are correct—there were no alternatives. On that front, in terms of the safety and quality—very important reforms that we have enacted—with regard to the commission: obviously, $496 million for the 10,000 home care packages. Importantly though, as well, $25.5 million to improve medication management and safety for older Australians living in residential aged care, as well as the $10 million for workforce training and support, particularly in dementia, and $4.7 million to improve the implementation of younger people in residential care. In addition do that, what may have been lost by the opposition is that on 1 July, thanks to the work of the now Minister for Indigenous Affairs, new quality and safety standards for aged care came into being. And on 1 January we also had the legislated Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, Janet Anderson, who, with her legislative powers, has now been pursuing these issues. These standards of safety and care, whether in relation to wound management or falls or any other form of abuse or treatment, have never been legislated to this effect before, have never been taken to this level before, have never been elevated to the level of scrutiny that we have put in place on our watch, in our time, precisely because, as the Prime Minister said, when he set out the need for a royal commission, we want to expose all of the challenges, wherever they exist, whenever they occur, and in whatever form that may be.