Thursday, 3 September 2020
Questions without Notice
Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians
My question is to the Prime Minister: Today the Senate censured the minister for aged care, with the support of every crossbencher. Prime Minister, we've heard horror stories of neglect in aged care, including a resident with ants crawling in her open wounds and shocking accounts of sexual assaults, untreated infections and maggots in wounds. With the death of almost 500 aged-care residents, why is the Prime Minister arrogantly persisting with an aged-care minister who clearly should be sacked from his job?
The many serious issues that require addressing in aged care, and particularly the unacceptable circumstances that occurred in a number of facilities, were the very reason the aged care royal commission was called in the first place. It is the very reason why the government, in particular, at the strong urging and recommendation of the minister for aged care, has continued to increase funding for aged care by over a billion dollars every year. It is the reason why the minister for aged care came to the cabinet and said we needed to do more on aged care in response the COVID-19 pandemic and did so in response to the plan that was first launched back in March and flagged in the COVID pandemic plan. That has now led to $1.5 billion and resources being brought to bear in response to the COVID pandemic. These coordinated efforts, both by the federal government and the state and territory governments, include the establishment of the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre. While there have been terrible impacts in aged care as a result of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic all around the world, but particularly in Victoria most recently, this is something that Australians understand.
Australians understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Australia and that no part of our community and no part of the facilities that Australians move in and out of on a daily basis are unaffected. And of course it's had an impact on aged care. What I can say is that, as a result of the government's efforts, despite the fact that there have been some terrible outcomes in a number of centres—and for that our condolences are expressed to those who are involved with family members and residents—the truth is that some eight per cent of facilities in total in Australia have been affected by COVID infections, both by staff and by residents themselves. That compares to 56 per cent in the United Kingdom. The actions that have been put in place by the government have ensured that we have been able to mitigate what has been a terrible blow as a result of COVID-19 across this country, including in the aged-care sector. And, despite the fact there have been a number of cases in facilities, the rest of the aged-care sector has benefited from the measures that have been put in place.
In relation to censures in the Senate, that is not a new thing. John Howard was censured by the Senate. Paul Keating was censured by the Senate. Gareth Evans was censured by the Senate. Graham Richardson was censured by the Senate—my good friend Graham. George Brandis was censured by the Senate.
Honourable members interjecting—