Wednesday, 26 August 2020
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Aged Care
My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Why won't the Prime Minister take full responsibility for the consequences of his $1.7 billion cut to aged care, which made older Australians worse off before the pandemic and left residents of aged-care homes more vulnerable to the deadly COVID virus?
Once again, the Leader of the Opposition comes forward and says there were cuts in funding to aged care. When funding goes up every year, that means there's more funding each year. When there's a cut to funding, it means there's less funding. These issues may be beyond the wit and wisdom of the Leader of the Opposition and his apprentice shadow Treasurer, with the training wheels still on, to understand—
The sorcerer's apprentice, the Deputy Prime Minister refers to him as!
When funding goes up every year by a billion dollars and more, that's a good thing. That is what has been happening with aged-care funding in this country. That's why the number of in-home aged-care places has risen from 60,000 to more than 150,000 under our government and will continue to increase. That's why the number of residential aged-care places and the funding for residential aged-care places have increased under our government. That is why we have put in place the aged-care quality commissioner. That is why we have continued to support reforms in the aged-care sector and, in particular—
I couldn't have been more relevant to the misleading remarks made by the opposition, which are exactly the same misleading remarks that were made by the previous Leader of the Opposition. He probably did it with a bit more credibility than this one. But what is true is that the government has been increasing its funding for aged care, as I and the health minister, in response to myriad questions today, have been able to demonstrate to this House and the Australian people. There is more funding. There is more than a billion dollars in additional funding, on top of what I've referred to, to go to our COVID response. That is why, despite there being extreme and severe impacts in four facilities in Victoria, and in Newmarch House and Dorothy Henderson Lodge—what happened in Victoria was even worse in those four centres; it was unacceptable. The government has made that very clear. I, indeed, have issued an apology in relation to those four facilities, and that's what's called taking responsibility. What the Leader of the Opposition does seem to have here is a blind spot for what is happening in Victoria. He seems to be the only person in this country who thinks there has been no community outbreak of the coronavirus in Victoria. But that has had an impact right across Victoria, which has got people locked up in their homes at the moment. They are under severe stress and strain as a result of what has occurred in Victoria. We have worked hard to mitigate the impact of that in the aged-care sector—
I am—two documents, in fact: page 172 of MYEFO from the Treasurer in 2015-16, and page 101 of Budget Paper No. 2 for the 2016-17 budget, which says the government will achieve efficiencies—