Monday, 15 June 2020
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Aged Care
My question is to the Prime Minister. Today is International Cleaners Day. Prime Minister, why has the government deliberately excluded cleaning staff at aged-care facilities from the retention payment which was given to other aged-care workers during the coronavirus?
I want to thank the member; however, there is a very important point which he seems to be missing. We've invested over $850 million right across the aged-care system to expand and support that capacity. He refers to one subprogram within that, a $230 million program which was designed specifically to protect and support those who were dealing face to face and providing additional care at a time when around the world we were seeing those carers facing both a specific risk and a risk of losing their support in terms of staying on the job. So we were able to provide that retention bonus of up to $800 for each of the two current quarters—the June quarter and the September quarter. All workers across the aged-care system are supported by the $850 million package. The specific program was always intended, from day one, to support our nurses and our aged-care carers.
So that was what it was set out to do and it is doing that. What it means is that we are supporting Australian workers. And what was the result of that? I just mentioned in the previous answer that we have now cleared coronavirus from every aged-care facility in Australia.
Ms Collins interjecting—
When you look around the world and you see what has occurred in sophisticated health systems, whether it's Italy, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada or the United States, you see the tragedy and the agony in those systems and the success of Australia's system.
Ms Collins interjecting—
What it says is that we have been able to successfully build that system, and we've done it by investing in the needs of our aged-care workers. We've delivered and supported them. We've also been able, through the additional funding of $850 million right across the aged-care system, to help underpin the viability of those facilities at a difficult time for aged-care facilities, which makes certain the wages of those aged-care workers, no matter what particular role they have, as well as providing the supplement to those whose health was directly at risk and to those whose likelihood, from around the world, was that they were most at risk of leaving the work or facing the health risks. So that's what we've done.
The net result is we've been able to maintain the safety of our aged-care residents. That's the first task. We've been able to support them. We've been able to keep going, and all of these things have meant our workers have been safe, our residents have been safe and the system has been viable. That is one of Australia's great achievements during the course of the pandemic. (Time expired)