House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Questions without Notice

Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services

2:09 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. In Senate estimates today the minister for aged-care services said, 'I don't accept that deaths in the community or deaths in aged care is an indicator' of his performance as a minister. Seven hundred and forty-three people have died of COVID in aged care this year alone. Does the Prime Minister agree with his minister that he is performing well?

2:10 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Since the beginning of this year, as of 15 February, 711 people have died in residential aged-care facilities. Deaths reported in residential aged-care facilities in total to 9 February of this year is 5,728. Every single life that has been lost to this virus, whether here or around the world, is a terrible tragedy for the families affected by those deaths. That is one of the objectives that our government, working with other governments around the country, have worked tirelessly to seek to minimise through the course of this pandemic, and we will continue to do that. The work that we've done and the additional supports that we've put in place, which indeed have been supported by the minister for aged-care services, led by the minister for aged care, who is in this House, have been there to ensure that Australia, when compared with other countries around the world, have had one of the lowest rates of fatalities from COVID, including in residential aged-care facilities. And so I say this: while we mourn the loss of those who have passed away in aged care, who have had COVID when they've passed away, as the Chief Medical Officer has been at pains to point out, passing away with COVID is not the same as passing away because of COVID.

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Those opposite may interject on that, but that is the medical advice which has been provided by the Chief Medical Officer. But I would say this, that for every life that has been lost, which we grieve, we give great thanks for the many thousands of lives that have been saved by the actions of our aged-care workers; our aged-care providers; the actions of healthcare workers across the system, the nurses, the government officials; and indeed the policy leadership that has been provided by the government, including the Minister for Health and Aged Care and the minister for aged-care services. So, if those opposite wish to use these issues for political exploitation, that is a matter for them. We will continue to get on with the job of saving as many lives as we have over the course of this pandemic.