Wednesday, 16 February 2022
Questions without Notice
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services
My question is to the Prime Minister. This year alone, 743 residents have died of COVID in aged care. Tens of thousands are not getting the care they need. This comes two years after the release of a royal commission report entitled, simply, Neglect. The aged-care system is in crisis. Aren't all these things indicators that the minister for aged care services should be sacked today?
To respectfully correct the member, this year, as the Prime Minister set out, sadly, we've lost 711 residents in aged care in Australia. And, as the secretary to the department has indicated in various discussions before the Senate, each life lost, no matter what the circumstances anywhere in the country, is one which we grieve deeply. We are aware, based on the very latest data that we have, that approximately 58 per cent of those were previously in palliative care. We feel for them, and we thank the families and all of those who have worked to protect them.
In terms of Australia's actions, we are thankful for the work of our nurses and our carers who have helped to deliver one of the lowest rates of loss of life in residential aged care in the world. And I think that that is a very important point. On the latest figures I have, Australia's—
Speaker, it's on relevance. The question was to the Prime Minister because it relates to the performance of his completely incompetent minister for aged care services. The minister answering the question cannot go to this point of who leads this sector for the country.
The point of order is on relevance, Speaker. This is about the performance of the minister and whether he should retain his job. That is not a question for the Minister for Health and Aged Care. It is a question for the leader of this country: the Prime Minister.
Perhaps the most germane of facts is to understand what has happened in Australia during the global pandemic compared to the rest of the world. In Ireland, the rate of loss of life is sadly 331 per cent of that in Australia. In France, it's 543 per cent. In Canada, it's 633 per cent. In the USA, it's 668 per cent. In Spain, it's 698 per cent. In the UK, it's 879 per cent. In Belgium, it's 1,291 per cent. All of these are fine countries doing the finest work they can, compassionately, to protect their citizens. They have faced a global pandemic and each of those countries has saved lives. In Australia, more lives have been saved on that comparative basis than in all of those which I set out.
We've done that through a series of actions. Firstly, beginning with the borders, there's been testing, tracing and distancing. But, in addition to that, there have been the specific measures within aged care. These have been difficult measures. Indeed, we have a 99 per cent vaccination rate amongst staff. Contrary to what has been put by some, we have a 92 per cent vaccination rate amongst residents and an 86.4 per cent vaccination rate amongst residents eligible for boosters. In addition to that, in this year alone over 50 million units of PPE have been made available. There's support for staff with our retention bonuses. In terms of residential aged-care facilities and rapid antigen tests, 13.9 million tests have been provided directly and another over nine million tests have been provided through the pensioner concession scheme. (Time expired)