Wednesday, 19 September 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Senator Scullion. This morning it was reported that, during a visit to a nursing home in May this year, the minister conceded that the government's $1.2 billion cut to aged care was hurting the sector. Why can Minister Wyatt acknowledge the damage of the cuts while Prime Minister Morrison continues to deny their existence?
Can I respond by saying that Minister Wyatt would not have acknowledged something that didn't happen. I know the man. So some vague meeting somewhere—they are just making a statement on the other side which adds to the spurious statements that a $1.2 billion cut has been made. Not only is there no $1.2 billion cut; it is a fantasy. In fact, $1 billion year on year for five years has been achieved. I'm surprised. Mr President, you see what happens on the other side, we all know. Labor criticise and then Labor cut. They criticise and then they cut. They've criticised $1 billion year on year. They've criticised our investment in research. They've criticised our investment in our framework. They've criticised our investment in the tough cop on the block.
What is it now? Does that mean they're saying they won't support this in government? Does it mean this is part of their policy? Does this mean everything they have knocked they are going to cut? I tell you what: they're not sending a clear signal to aged Australians, unlike us. We will ensure that you have the very best. We will increase it year on year. We're not just saying we'll do it; we can demonstrate it. For the last five years, year on year, there's been an additional $1 billion in the budget. You can look forward, year on year, to an additional $1 billion into the sector. We've actually called a royal commission. I don't hear squeals of support from the other side. They just see an opportunity to put politics over people and to put the interests of the Labor Party over the interests of our eldest and most treasured Australians. What a pathetic attack on our most treasured Australians!
The report reveals that Minister Wyatt said during his visit that, in relation to the $1.2 billion in cuts, 'These things are controlled by Treasury.' Has the minister told Prime Minister Morrison that he blames him for making the cuts as Treasurer?
This is day 3. There haven't been any cuts. We've established that. We've established there are no cuts. So the questions from the other side are becoming more and more pathetic. We now have a report of a conversation—
Thank you, Mr President. There is no cut. The minister did not report a cut to the Prime Minister. There was no conversation about a cut because there was no cut. In fact, there was an addition. Any conversations between the Prime Minister and the minister would have been saying, 'Isn't it great that every year there's another billion, another billion and another billion!' Let me tell you, Mr President: we should all be reminded that the additional funds are in addition to what those opposite provided. So I really don't understand why they need to continue to investigate their own complete failure in this area.
Given the minister is denying that Minister Wyatt blamed Prime Minister Morrison for the damage done by his $1.2 billion cut to aged care, what did Minister Wyatt actually say?
The point of order is on direct relevance The primary question did not deal with any conversation with the minister and the Prime Minister; it dealt with a conversation between Minister Wyatt and a third party at a nursing home. That was clearly referenced. The question now—if the minister is denying the way it's been reported—as Senator Polley relevantly asked, is: what did Minister Wyatt actually say?
On the point of order, I believe the minister is being directly relevant to what Senator Polley said immediately prior to that and addressing the statement with respect to the funding levels—or the funding cut, as it was put. I believe the minister is being directly relevant and is entitled to do so at that part. I will listen very carefully to his—
Senator Wong interjecting—
No, Senator Wong, the preface to the question is something the minister is allowed to address. Senator Scullion, please continue.
Thank you, Mr President. I assume that those opposite had actually understood and been reading reports, but Mr Wyatt categorically denied that any such conversation took place. Irrespective of that, the notion around cuts that keep happening, there were no cuts. We have continued to invest in research. We've continue to invest in additional homecare places. We've continued to invest in residential care places. We've continued to invest in compliance. We believe that this is an investment that repays the fantastic investment that our eldest Australians have made in this nation.