Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. I refer to comments yesterday by the Liberal MP for Monash, Russell Broadbent, who said he'd sounded warnings about the aged-care sector for years 'but I was ignored completely'. If the Prime Minister won't listen to Labor and won't listen to his own royal commissioners, will he at least listen to his own backbench and acknowledge that his cuts of $1.7 billion have contributed to the problem?
I note the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition referring to the comments by the member for Monash. The member for Monash, like, I think, all members of this place, feels passionately about the care that is provided to elderly Australians, and he has been passionate about that for as long as I have known him—from my very first speech in this place, my maiden speech, as we sat together on those opposition benches. I've always known the member for McMillan, as he was known then, as someone who speaks his mind and speaks passionately in our party room, and he will always stand up for his constituents in his community, and that's why, I believe, he has been returned to this place on so many occasions. In fact, back in 2017 he raised many of these issues and stood down from two parliamentary positions because he believed that his issues needed to be addressed. This was a significant factor, I can tell you, Mr Speaker, after I became Prime Minister. Because of the many times I'd heard Russell Broadbent get to his feet on this, I believed we needed to have a royal commission into aged care. I know that the member for Monash was very pleased to see that we introduced that royal commission into aged care.
The member for Monash said 'successive governments over 30 years', referring to the failings in aged care over 30 years. And he knows that. His comments reflect the frustration he has had over a long career in this parliament. The challenges we have to deal with in aged care address, and will need to address, failings over a long period of time by governments of all persuasions. These failings have occurred under private sector operators, not-for-profit sector operators and, indeed, public sector operators. In fact, the royal commission followed the terrible events that we saw at the Oakden aged-care facility in South Australia, which was a publicly run facility. Whether it's public, private or not-for-profit is not the issue. The issue is ensuring that we get the funding to where it needs to go and that we continue to train the workforce and continue to lift the standards and ensure the clinical training is there so that people who are in aged-care facilities get the care and the dignity and respect they deserve. That is something that the member for Monash and I agree passionately on, together.