Thursday, 13 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Health. Why is the government privatising the aged-care assessment team—the only part of the aged-care system everyone accepts is working well, including the New South Wales minister, Brad Hazzard, who described this privatisation as 'a plan that lacks logic'?
I reject the proposition in that question, and I do that for a number of reasons—firstly, because, under the current scheme, there are non-government contracts, and that is a very important thing to note. Secondly, I want to challenge the fundamental assumption that things need to stay exactly as they are; that they couldn't be better. All of this questioning is about how things could be better—and they can be better in terms of the assessment system and the way that the experience of families occurs. How do I know this? I know this because, in the Tune review, precisely the question that was raised by the member was addressed. What is it that David Tune said? Mr Tune—one of the most distinguished former public servants that this parliament and this federal government has been privileged to have—said:
I consider that to create a seamless aged care system that is responsive to consumer needs and enable the government to fully understand demand, it should be a priority to combine the RAS and ACAT assessment workforces and systems into an integrated assessment workforce. It may be preferable to implement this using a staged approach, considering opportunities to trial the integration in some locations, for example in particular rural and remote regions or in jurisdictions that have not yet fully transitioned to the national system.
The member for Franklin was asking for the source, the origin, the reason. I'm actually reading from the report that recommended there could be improvements in the existing system. I think it's very important to put today into context. On the one hand they say that change is needed; on the other hand they oppose change; and on the third hand it's each way, one way and another's approach. They don't even provide any funding. Let me say this: 'one way, each way.' But we are responding directly to David Tune's report in the very terms that he set out. We reject, absolutely, the presumption. We're also very happy to work constructively with all of the states and territories.
Here is a question: is the opposition now saying it will abolish the existing non-government contracts that are in place for the delivery of these services? Is that a new policy position where they are saying that they will abolish the existing non-government contracts? Because that system already exists. What we are doing is following the recommendations, as we did with the royal commission, in this case of David Tune. We're doing that to protect people and to give them a better chance at getting— (Time expired)