Thursday, 14 November 2019
Questions without Notice
Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety
My question is to the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Colbeck. In releasing the interim report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the commissioner's rightly said the aged-care failures 'diminish Australia as a nation'. How long will older Australians wait for the Morrison government to formally respond to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety's interim report?
I thank Senator Keneally for her question, and she's right: the words that were in the royal commissioner's report, I think, do diminish all Australians, because what was found in that report showed that there was a poor attitude to people who are aged in this country. The report also said that something of the order of 50 per cent of Australians in residential aged care don't get visitors. It demonstrated a broad attitude of Australians to senior Australians, and the royal commission's report quite rightly indicated that that attitude had to change. The royal commission's report, as I've said in this place before, put the government on notice, put the opposition on notice, put the industry and the entire Australian community on notice that these attitudes need to change.
As I said on the afternoon of releasing the report, the government would carefully consider the matters that were raised, particularly the three items that were considered priorities. They are: the issue of restraint, the issue of home care packages, and the issue—
Given that the Morrison government has refused to put the aged-care portfolio in the cabinet, who is leading the government response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety?
I think the fact that the day after the royal commission handed down its interim report the government was led by the Prime Minister in responding to this matter demonstrates how important this government rates this matter.
As minister, obviously, I have responsibilities around the development of policy, working with my colleague Minister Hunt, who is the cabinet minister within the Health portfolio. The Prime Minister, quite rightly, takes a significant interest in this matter as well, bearing in mind that calling this royal commission was one of the first things that the Prime Minister did after becoming Prime Minister. The Prime Minister saw this as such an important matter that he called a royal commission, regardless of how uncomfortable it might be for any of us, because he saw this as a significant priority for his government.
I note the minister said that the Prime Minister and Minister Hunt are leading the response. Given that the minister has this week refused to take responsibility for fixing the broken aged-care system, is the reason for that that he actually considers it to be the Prime Minister's responsibility to fix the broken aged-care system? And what is the point of the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians if not to take responsibility for the aged-care system?
To be frank, Senator Keneally diminishes this issue by reading out a prepared question that was written out before she even listened to my previous answer.
This government takes the issue of aged care absolutely seriously—absolutely seriously! That's why this government and why the Prime Minister called the royal commission into aged care. As uncomfortable as it might be for any of us on this side, the stories needed to be told. As the commissioners said last week, they wanted aged people to have a voice—people who they regarded as not having a voice. They saw the process that we're undertaking now as being an important part of the royal commission process.
So, collectively, this government takes responsibility. Obviously, as minister, I have responsibility for leading the development of policy— (Time expired)