Thursday, 13 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator Colbeck. In response to the Morrison government's plans to put aged-care assessment services out to tender, New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard has revealed that 'New South Wales has major concerns' and that 'the plan lacks logic'. Is Mr Hazzard correct?
I disagree with Mr Hazzard, quite clearly. I disagree with Mr Hazzard because I'm actually implementing a recommendation from the Tune review. I'm actually doing what the royal commission said in its interim report last year, which was that this reform is urgent. I understand that Mr Hazzard has a perspective on this. I have spoken to Mr Hazzard with respect to these reforms—we had a conversation earlier in the year—and we have a different point of view. Mr Hazzard believes that the New South Wales government should do all aged-care assessments. I don't agree with him. The Tune review doesn't agree with him. And the royal commission says, 'Get on with it; the reform recommended in the Tune review is urgent.' So I do have a difference of opinion with Mr Hazzard, the New South Wales minister.
We will continue our dialogue with New South Wales. Mr Hazzard has been very, very open with me. He has sent me a number of documents that have given me the opportunity to work through the New South Wales perspective. We will continue to have that dialogue because the one thing I am really determined to see—and that I know Mr Hazzard is also determined to see—is that people get an assessment process that is appropriate, that provides appropriately for their needs and that refers them to the services that are appropriate for their needs, and they then get access to those services. In the context of our core desires, Mr Hazzard and I are on exactly the same plane. We have a different perspective on how that might be achieved.
In response to his Liberal colleagues' criticism, Minister Colbeck claimed that the government's plan to put aged-care assessment services out to tender was supported by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Does the minister stand by this claim?
I'm listening very carefully. The minister just wound up to indicate he's going to talk about a process. I've got no process question embedded in what I asked. It was simply: does the minister stand by his claim with regard to a statement of the royal commissioner?
The minister was clearly preparing to answer. We cannot take points of order on what a minister may be saying; I have to listen carefully to what he is saying. I will listen carefully. With respect, he had been speaking for about 14 seconds. Senator Colbeck.
My question goes nowhere near the Tune review. My question goes to the minister's claim that the government's plan to put aged-care services out to tender was supported by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. That is it. That is all there is. There is nothing else to work with, Senator Colbeck.
You have reminded the minister of the question. I heard him talking about the government's plans. I can't instruct him how to answer a question. I've given you the opportunity to remind him of it again. I will listen carefully to his remaining 28 seconds. Senator Colbeck.
In context and in time line, this reform was recommended by Tune in 2017; and the royal commission, in its report last year, said the reform was urgent. And yes, I do believe that supports my view that this reform should go ahead.
It should have been a point of order on that nonanswer, but anyway. The chair of the Royal Commission into Aged Care, Quality and Safety, Commissioner Pagone, has had to publicly refute the minister's claim, stating that the commission's interim report—and this is what he said—'did not endorse the government's stated position'. Will the minister correct the record? Has the minister apologised to the commission for falsely stating its position?
My statements always have been in the context of the Tune review recommendations and the fact that the royal commission said that this was an urgent reform. I can very much understand the royal commission's statement, given the reporting of my comments versus what I actually said, that I was intending to privatise ACAT services. I have never ever said that. So I can actually understand the royal commission responding to a reporting of my comments that wasn't correct. I issued a statement immediately I saw the comments of the royal commission, acknowledging the primacy of the royal commission. I acknowledged the royal commission, the work that it was doing and the government's willingness to engage closely with the royal commission on these reforms.