Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020


Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Bill 2020; Second Reading

10:59 am

Photo of Glenn SterleGlenn Sterle (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Road Safety) Share this | | Hansard source

Labor will be supporting this bill. As outlined in the explanatory memorandum, the purpose of this bill is to enable a new procedure to classify recipients of residential aged care and some kinds of flexible care from 1 March 2021. The amendments will allow for the introduction of a new classification system that focuses on independently determining the care needs of older Australians, assessing residential aged care and some types of flexible care. Labor does have one particular concern about this bill: the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will not regulate the estimated 254 full-time assessors; the regulation of these assessors will be the responsibility of the Department of Health.

Australians know only too well that the aged-care system under the Liberals is broken. We know that the Prime Minister, when he was Treasurer, cut $1.7 billion from the aged-care budget. This has had an impact across residential aged care. How do we know this? Because families and aged-care workers tell us that these cuts have had a significant impact. Any recent funding commitments have been announced only when the government has been under political pressure. That includes funding for home-care packages and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is: why didn't the Morrison government put funding into the aged-care system before COVID-19? Why did it wait until residents were dying to start putting back some of the money it had cut from aged care, the billions of dollars?

Over the past two years, more than 100,000 older Australians have consistently waited on the Morrison government's never-ending waiting list for their approved home-care package. More than 30,000 older Australians died, over three years, waiting for their approved home-care package. More than 32,000 older Australians, over two years, entered residential aged care prematurely because they couldn't get the care they needed. Waiting times for aged care grew by almost 300 per cent under the Liberals, with older Australians across the country forced into lengthy queues for care. As an example, of the 23,000 home-care packages the government announced in the budget, only 2,000 of these packages are level 4, the highest level of care. Compare that to the number of people currently waiting for their approved level 4 package; that figure is 15,873.

There's been inaction on hundreds of recommendations from more than a dozen reviews, reports and inquiries. Complaints about aged care doubled, to almost 8,000, in just one year, but the Prime Minister has failed to properly resource the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to handle these complaints. The Morrison government has failed to fully implement even one aged-care recommendation from a landmark report to stop elder abuse in aged care released in 2017. More than 110,000 calls for help went unanswered by the My Aged Care call centre over the last three years—110,000! The Morrison government delivered just—ready for this?—38 emergency food packages to older Australians isolated because of COVID-19, after announcing it would deliver 36,000 with funding of $9.3 million. Thirty-eight is all they delivered.

On top of all this, there is a failed Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians who is not up to the job. He has lost the confidence of the Australian people, and of the parliament after being censured. The list of overpromising and underdelivering goes on and on. We now know the Morrison government did not have a plan for COVID-19. In black and white this was stated in the royal commission's special report into COVID-19. We know the Morrison government was not prepared for COVID-19 in aged care. Despite the early warnings, it didn't do enough early enough. Aged-care workers had difficulty in accessing PPE. I heard from some of them yesterday. I couldn't believe workers were telling me they couldn't get access to PPE. There was no infection control training for aged-care workers, no surge workforce strategy document and no idea of how many aged-care workers were working across multiple sites. Reports not made public have been hidden by the government.

It is clear the Morrison government has no plan to fix the aged-care system. The Leader of the Australian Labor Party made a speech at the National Press Club back in August outlining eight steps that the Morrison government could take now to address the issues in aged care. These are: (1) ensure minimum staffing levels in residential aged care; (2) reduce the home-care package waiting list so more people can stay in their homes for longer; (3) ensure transparency and accountability of funding to support high-quality care; (4) mandate independent measurement and public reporting—as recommended by the royal commission this week; (5) ensure every residential aged-care facility has adequate personal protective equipment; (6) provide better training for staff, including on infection control; (7) ensure a better surge workforce strategy; and (8) provide additional resources so the aged-care royal commission can inquire specifically into COVID-19 across the sector while not impacting or delaying the handing down of the final report.

We know that Australians are angry. They are upset and they want aged care fixed. We also know that they don't trust the Morrison government or the current minister for aged care, Senator Colbeck, to fix the problems that have occurred on their watch. They also don't trust the Morrison government to act on the royal commission's final report. Be assured that Labor will continue to hold the Morrison government to account, both in the parliament and publicly, on the issues that thousands of Australians are concerned about. Older Australians, their families and carers deserve far better.

11:06 am

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Bill 2020. From the outset I'd like to say that I concur with Senator Sterle's contribution to this debate. The amendments before us will allow for the introduction of a new classification system that focuses on independently determining the care needs of older Australians accessing residential aged care and some types of flexible care. Labor will be supporting this bill as it enables a new classification procedure to do a shadow classification of recipients of residential aged care and some kinds of residential care plans in Australia.

Reform is necessary because we know that the current funding model has been broken for some time. Currently the fiscal contribution that the Australian government makes to aged-care providers is administered through the Aged Care Funding Instrument, ACFI. ACFI is a tool that assesses the care needs of residents and is the largest source of revenue for residential aged-care providers. ACFI is based on dependency, so there are limited incentives for aged-care providers to actively encourage reablement and rehabilitation methods.

This mechanism is broken, as I said, and we have known this for many years. There needs to be a complete overhaul if we are going to overcome our self-imposed aged-care crisis. In 2017 there was a review of the ACFI. It found that this outdated instrument needed to be replaced. That was in 2017, and we are now at the end of 2020. The government have been sitting on this report for three long years, but it is in line with their very slow, let's-not-have-any-reform approach to the aged-care sector.

Concurrently, many aged-care providers are not commercially viable. These corporations usually employ complicated business structures, which, while being legal, cast a veil on their financial performance and transactions. Transparency must accompany this sector. Increasing reporting requirements will allow for more informed policy and investment decisions. Labor also believes we need better transparency around funding. We also need to know how that funding is being used in aged care and what improvements have been carried out to provide quality care for older Australians.

Labor has been saying for a very long time that there needs to be more transparency for older Australians and their loved ones so that they know what's happening. There are a lot of questions about transparency as to the taxpayer funds that go into aged care. Over $20 billion a year goes into the aged-care system to support older Australians to either stay in their home or be cared for in residential homes. We need more accountability about where that money is actually going and more oversight of how that money is being spent.

Under the amendments to this bill, there will be a move to a new instrument as a possible replacement for ACFI. This has been designed by the Australian Health Services Research Institute at the University of Wollongong. The group undertook the Resource Utilisation and Classification Study in 2017, and on 10 February 2019 the government announced a trial of an alternate residential aged-care funding assessment tool called the Australian National Aged Care Classification assessment tool. While we support this bill, we do have concerns that the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will not regulate the estimated 250 full-time assessors of this new instrument. The regulation of these assessors will be the responsibility of the Department of Health.

We on this side are frustrated with the lack of commitment to reforming the aged-care system and returning quality of care to all residents. I have lost count of the amount of times I have stood in this place and said the same thing over and over. This government has been slow to act, to bring about any reform, and it keeps hiding behind the guise of the royal commission that it called into its own failings. In the meantime, older Australians are dying of neglect. They are waiting for home-care packages, and this government is taking so long to roll out those aged-care packages that, we know, older Australians are dying after they have been assessed as needing a level 3 or a level 4 package. If that's not bad enough, older Australians who have passed away are receiving letters regarding their approved aged-care package. The indignity, the disrespect and the incompetence of this government is having a terrible effect on Australian families whose loved ones have passed away waiting for aged-care services that never arrived.

Let's look at the performance of this government when it comes to aged care. The performance is fundamental to a minister of the Crown worthy of a portfolio of those opposite who never perform their duties. They take the Australian people for granted every minute of every day. We know that the first failing of every consecutive Liberal government that has been in power in the last seven years—there have been a number of leaders, as we know—is that there has never been appointed a minister for aged care who sits in the cabinet room, to take the concerns of this sector to that cabinet table. It's a failing.

Richard Colbeck, as the minister for aged care, is perhaps the worst minister this country has seen to have responsibility for aged care. This may be about him being incompetent, but it could just be that he doesn't care about this sector. For the majority of this year, his lacklustre performance in this portfolio has seemingly been accepted by those opposite—particularly by the Prime Minister, who, at the last election, promised that he would make older Australians a priority of his government. Well, he has failed. I have asked, and my colleagues have asked, countless questions of the minister during question time and in estimates, and been unable to get answers. Very few questions, if any, have been able to be answered by the minister. What I get is um's and ah's, the shuffling of paper, disinterest and incompetent answers—and that's an affirmative.

Minister, I would like you to give all Australians an early Christmas present and resign before the reshuffle and you're moved out. That would be a sign that you have acknowledged that you have failed in your responsibility as the minister for older Australians. It would be respectful to older Australians to have a minister, and to have a Prime Minister, who lives up to his election commitments and makes older Australians a priority. It's all very well to make the announcements and have the photo opportunities where this government is pretending it's doing something in aged care, but we in fact know that you are not. You have failed. You make announcements about the rollout of new aged-care packages, but the reality is that we know 30,000 older Australians—it is probably more now—have died over the last couple of years waiting for their home-care package that they were accredited and were advised that they were entitled to. I'm sorry, but it's just part of human nature. If you're in your 80s or 90s and you've been classified as needing a level 4 package to enable you to stay you at home, the likelihood is that will not live, with that level of care denied to you, for those 18 months to two years before you may—may!—get the level of care that you need. That is a disgrace, and it is unacceptable.

In this place last night we worked until midnight, which is fine. We're happy to do that, because it's our job to be here and to pass legislation. In fact, I will just remind some people who normally sit in this chamber that you get elected as a senator to represent your state and territory and to actually vote. Last night, Senator Griff baled out on that responsibility and squibbed out, just as we saw Bridget Archer, the federal Liberal member for Bass, squib out in the other place. She failed to vote on the cashless debit card legislation that she spoke so passionately about and raised her concerns about. She didn't have the commitment to follow through and vote that legislation down. Ms Archer will have the opportunity again today to vote down this legislation when it goes back to the House of Representatives. I would put my house on it that she will not vote that legislation down. I can guarantee that she will squib out again, and she will support the government's attack on First Nations people and the majority of people who receive welfare. By abstaining from voting, she ensures that their human rights and their dignity are taken away and attacked again by this government.

Let's get back to the failings of this government on aged care. Let's face it, I could be here all day with all that they have failed to deliver for older Australians. This is a callous, heartless government. They make commitments at election time. The Prime Minister loves a photo opportunity, but he fails to deliver, on so many levels of responsibility, the commitments that he gives when the cameras are focused on him. This government and this minister for aged care had ample warning to ensure that the aged-care sector was prepared for COVID-19 when it happened. But what did they do? They wanted to blame everyone else—the Victorian government and everyone else except for themselves—for failing to ensure that there was PPE and that there was adequate training for the aged-care workforce. And let's not forget that it was this government that called the royal commission into their own failings. They can try and rewrite history and go back and blame the previous Labor government, but they've been in government for more than seven years. The responsibility for the failings in aged care rests firmly with them. The interim report from their aged-care royal commission was entitled Neglect. That's the word that every Australian associates now with aged care in this country. It's their failing.

I would like to acknowledge and take this opportunity to thank those who have worked in the front line of aged care in this country, particularly through the COVID-19 pandemic. More importantly, there is what they do for older Australians, whether it's in their home or whether it's in residential care, every day and every night. That's the carers, the kitchen staff, the nurses, the cleaners, the maintenance crew, the admin, and the boards—particularly for the not-for-profit aged-care providers. They do a wonderful job for their communities. So I give a big shout-out and acknowledgement to them, and I wish them and their families a lovely Christmas, a Christmas that I am sure is going to mean so much to all of us as we leave this place.

Well, I have a Christmas greeting for the minister for aged care. It's fantastic that he's in the chamber here today to listen to our contributions. Merry Christmas, Richard Colbeck. You are on the naughty list this year, so don't be surprised if Santa Claus doesn't come down your chimney. I can guarantee you won't have to worry about its next Christmas, because you won't be the minister for aged care.

11:19 am

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to make a contribution in the second reading debate on the Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Bill 2020, which allows for the introduction of a new classification system of older Australians accessing residential aged care and some types of flexible care.

It marks an important step towards a new funding model for residential aged care by allowing the Australian government to undertake shadow assessments using the Australian National Aged Care Classification or AN-ACC tool, to enable that to occur. We all know that this is desperately needed, because our system is desperately broken. We know that the current tool, the Aged Care Funding Instrument, commonly known as ACFI, is no longer fit for purpose and it hasn't in fact been fit for purpose for a long time.

This bill allows for 12 months of shadow assessments to be undertaken to collect information about how the AN-ACC tool operates. We know that ACFI in fact enables perverse outcomes and incentives within its model. Older Australians who experience greater pain, disability and fragility gain additional funding. Of course, we know that they need additional supports. But the perversity is that you get more funding for that, but, once you get somebody well, the funding falls away. In other words, our aged-care providers are not enabled and supported around ensuring the continual wellbeing and enablement of a person in residential aged care. That is a ridiculous situation. The incentive there is perverse: you want to keep people unwell or claim that they are unwell so you can get more funding to look after them. It's absolutely ridiculous, and that's been the case for a long time.

We do need to have a tool and a funding process that supports aged-care providers who focus on reablement and wellbeing of older Australians. There is so much evidence and research around now around the importance of that and what can be done. But that also costs money. It costs money to support somebody who, for example, has chronic pain or disability or who is frail. It does cost money to provide the level of support and care to improve their wellbeing and, importantly, to maintain that wellbeing.

The Australian Greens are broadly supportive of the measures in this bill but we have a number of issues, which I am about to raise. I also want to let the minister know that we will be asking a series of questions in committee to ensure that we have on record in this place the responses to some of the issues I'm going to be raising.

As part of this measure, the government will need to recruit and train a new workforce to undertake the shadow assessments. I understand that the assessment workforce will be independent from providers and assessors, and assessors will need to meet strict qualification criteria. Of course, that's important and we welcome that. However, I urge the government to ensure that assessors are well trained and are offered permanent positions to have the capacity and capability to undertake the shadow assessments. That's just so important in getting this right. I also echo the concerns raised by the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, who have recommended that assessments of older people from CALD backgrounds are guided by a diversity advisory. This would help enable training of assessors—including cultural competency, cultural safety and trauma informed approaches.

During the short inquiry into this bill several submitters raised issues around the use of section 29C of the bill, which enables the secretary to arrange computer programs to make decisions on the classification of care recipients. Several stakeholders raised warning bells about the use of computer programs to classify care recipients in light of the failures of the robodebt program. I won't take long to remind the chamber of the very significant problems that eventuated from relying on computer programs and taking out the human beings in this process.

The Australian Greens have strong concerns about how computer programs will be used to make concessions in classified care recipients under the ANACC tool. We don't want to see older Australians fall prey to a repeat of the errors that were made under the illegal robodebt program. We want to make sure that safeguards are put in place. We are not necessarily tech phobic; we just want to make sure there is a human element built into the system so that the computer programs are not making decisions that have long-term consequences for human beings. I have raised that I want to clarify some of the issues around that with the government.

There are also concerns about what information the government needs to gather to make future decisions about the new classification system after 12 months of shadow assessments. At the end of 12 months, the ACSA has suggested we need to understand: whether the alternate resident classification delivers the required support for an individual resident; the financial impacts at both the aggregate and provider level from a change from the current funding instrument, ACFI, to the alternative funding instrument—in this case, it is the ANACC; whether the proposed five per cent stop loss is adequate in all circumstances; and the potential values assigned to the national weighted activity unit of the ANACC.

I am hoping the government will do its due diligence and properly collate and evaluate information received during the shadow assessment period. We need to have all the information possible to ensure we do not repeat the mistakes of the ACFI model. Counsel assisting the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommended that ongoing evidence based reviews should be conducted thereafter to refine the models for the purpose of ensuring that they model accurate classification and funding to meet assessed needs. We will be monitoring the further refinement of this process to ensure that the new classification model meets the needs of older Australians. It is very important that this process is undertaken, but we want to make sure that we get it right.

This bill marks an important step towards a new funding model for residential aged care that is so desperately needed. It is part of the overall reform that is needed in residential aged care that we have spoken about at length in this place. The royal commission is going to be, in the very near future, handing down its recommendations. We think it is important that this process does get underway. We know very well that the funding process needs to change. We know it is part of the reform process. We want to make sure that older Australians get the best care that they can, which comes from an approach of enablement and of ensuring their wellbeing.

I am not saying all providers, but we know very well that some providers are not up to scratch; they are not providing quality care. They can say it is about funding, and, yes, funding is part of that. But my argument is that there are some providers who are not doing their job. They are not doing a proper job. We heard about them during the royal commission. I'm sure everybody in this chamber has had emails from people around the poor quality of care of their loved ones. I am sure my colleagues have also had emails around the complexity of the process of accessing care. We need to fix that process. We need to make sure that providers are also held to account, that there is transparency and accountability. Looking at this process very carefully is one of the things that I and, I am sure, others are going to be doing, to make sure that the transparency and accountability of providers who provide the level of care that they are funded for are there so that the community knows what the providers are spending their money on. We know from the royal commission, and, in fact, how some providers responded to the pandemic, that some did a really good job and some did a very poor job. My argument is that, in some instances, the coronavirus took hold because there were not good infection control processes there from the beginning, which enabled the virus to spread more rapidly in these facilities.

This is a good step. We need to start this, we need to do the shadow assessment, but we need to watch it very carefully to make sure that we do get this new process right. The Greens will be supporting this legislation, but I want to seek some reassurances and clarifications from the minister, as I indicated in those questions.

11:30 am

Photo of Claire ChandlerClaire Chandler (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is a pleasure to rise today in the Senate to speak in support of the Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Bill 2020. This bill amends the Aged Care Act 1997 to enable a new procedure, from 1 March next year, to classify recipients of residential aged care and some types of flexible care. The bill introduces the option to independently assess the relative care needs of individuals in residential aged care by empowering the Secretary of the Department of Health to assess care recipients using a new assessment tool and to process assessment results to assign new classification levels.

During the information-gathering period the bill allows, providers will continue to use the existing Aged Care Funding Instrument to assess their residents in parallel with the new procedure established by the bill. The bill responds to sustained criticism from care providers, statutory authorities and academic researchers of how care recipients are currently classified, with residential aged-care providers being required to regularly assess residents using the outdated Aged Care Funding Instrument.

To that end, I must thank the work of my Tasmanian colleague and aged-care minister Senator Richard Colbeck for all that he is doing in this space. We've spoken many, many times in this place, and I know that I've made contributions before in this chamber about the state of aged care in this country. We know that aged care is one of these things that, in some way shape or form, will touch the lives of most Australians, whether they are in aged care themselves or they have a relative or close friend in an aged-care facility. We know just how important it is that we get this right. That is one of the reasons that we are running a royal commission into the aged-care sector—so that we know what the issues are and we can appropriately respond. I thank Senator Colbeck for all of the work that he is doing in this area.

On that note of the aged-care royal commission, I was having a glance through the Community Affairs Legislation Committee report on this legislation before I rose to speak today. This legislation was referred to that committee on 12 November this year, and their report was tabled on 2 December, and authored by another of my great Tasmanian colleagues and chair of that committee Senator Wendy Askew. That report recommended that the bill be passed, and I certainly hope that the Senate echoes the sentiments of that report in its deliberations here today. Reading through that report on the bill we're debating here today, I want to home in on a couple of quotes which really stood out to me. The Community Affairs Legislation Committee report said:

… the bill's provisions to be an important mechanism to allow the aged care sector and the government to quickly and adequately respond to the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety—

which, as Senate Siewert echoed in her contribution, will be reporting very early in the new year. On the last sitting day of 2020, I think it's very appropriate that we come to this place to debate this legislation and ensure that it is passed, so that everything that needs to be in place for us to respond to the royal commission in early 2021 is, indeed, in place. As I said before, we know that aged care is something that touches the lives of so many Australians. We've had the royal commission so that we know what the issues are, what we need to get right. If the bill that we're debating here today will help us adapt to the royal commission as 'quickly and adequately' as possible, to quote the legislation committee's report, then that is only a good thing. On that basis I do hope that the bill passes the Senate today.

The Community Affairs Legislation Committee report also said that the bill 'paves the way for a more modern, efficient and stable approach to funding in the residential aged-care sector'. I think that's a really important point for us all to reflect upon here today. Since the 2016 budget, the government has committed to developing and testing a lasting alternative to the Aged Care Funding Instrument. A potential replacement of the Aged Care Funding Instrument now exists. It is called the Australian National Aged Care Classification, or the AN-ACC. The bill that we're debating here today builds on the successful AN-ACC trial conducted in 2019 and early 2020 and will allow a new classification using the AN-ACC tool to be determined for the entire residential aged-care population without affecting how the subsidy for providers is calculated. This is an essential step in preparing to respond to the findings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, as was detailed in the Senate committee report.

Funding for the new AN-ACC assessors was announced in the 2020 budget. All assessors will have to meet strict professional qualifications and additional training criteria, which will be detailed in subordinate legislation. The classification data obtained from these assessments will ensure that individuals, care workers, providers and the government all have the information they need to fully understand the new funding model. The AN-ACC assessment and classification procedures will create an important dataset to aid understanding of frailty issues in the residential aged-care population. They will, for example, allow a comparison of how quickly or slowly the health status of people with like care needs declines. The government recognises that the benefit of this data for monitoring and research purposes does not require care recipients to be identified and is introducing amendments to ensure that personal information cannot be published, in writing or otherwise, to protect the privacy of residents. I think that's a very important safeguard to have in place.

This bill enables the next phase of residential aged-care funding reform. It sets the stage for a quick and seamless transition to a more contemporary, efficient, effective and stable funding approach that will promote investment in residential aged-care refurbishment and expansion and will support providers to better deliver the individualised care that each resident needs.

I said at the start of my remarks that aged care is something that impacts on the lives of all Australians. We as a government are firmly committed to ensuring that our aged-care sector delivers for those Australians that it impacts and for its cohort. That's why the 2021 budget includes the delivery of 23,000 additional home-care packages, at a cost of $1.6 billion, in addition to the 6,000-odd packages announced in July, at a cost of more than $325 million.

We've invested more than $746 million in aged-care COVID-19 response measures as part of the $1.6 billion aged-care specific COVID support package and we've invested slightly over $408 million for aged-care reform initiatives to improve the quality of care, further respond to the urgent issues raised by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety and lay the foundations for future reform. As I say, this is such an important area to get right and that's why we're having a royal commission, so that we understand what the issues are and so that we can ensure that our aged-care sector provides for all Australians. The bill that we're debating here today is just part of that, and the budget measures that I ran through are likewise part of that. I do commend the work of Senator Colbeck in this space, to ensure that our aged-care sector is appropriate and does provide quality care for those Australians who seek to or may have the need to use it.

In summary, it is a pleasure to rise today to speak on the Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Bill 2020. As I said, the passage of this bill will ensure that this government can respond quickly and adequately to the findings of the aged-care royal commission when they are tabled in the very near future. We know that this is important, we know that this is something we have to get right and, on that basis, I commend the bill to the Senate.

11:41 am

Photo of Sarah HendersonSarah Henderson (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is my great pleasure to join with my good friend Senator Chandler in commending the Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Bill 2020 to the Senate. As we've just heard in the fine contribution from Senator Chandler, looking after senior Australians is one of our government's most important responsibilities. We announced the royal commission because we understood that not everything is right in aged care. But we took the action required to give Australians faith that this government takes its responsibility to senior Australians incredibly seriously. Where there are cracks in the system, we are not going to tolerate them. We are not going to stand by and see the care of any Australian, particularly any Australian in an aged-care residential facility, compromised in any way.

We do have a very strong regulatory framework, and that's incredibly important. Aged-care residential providers have very strong obligations under the law. There is no doubt that some aged-care providers have not complied with the law in all respects, and that is simply not good enough. But where the regulatory framework is not where it needs to be—and we will, of course, learn more about this when the royal commission hands down its final report in February next year—our government stands ready to act and to do whatever is necessary to improve our aged-care system. The Prime Minister has already indicated that more funding will be forthcoming to address the recommendations made by the royal commission, so we already have seen a very, very strong commitment from our Prime Minister in this respect.

I say that, of course, given the Morrison government's history, and the coalition government's history since we were elected in 2013, of how we have invested in and looked after senior Australians, because the fact of the matter is the Morrison government is delivering record investment across the aged-care system over the forward estimates, growing from $13.3 billion in 2012-13, under Labor, to $21.3 billion in 2019-20. It's estimated that funding for aged care will grow to more than $27 billion in 2023-24, which is on average $1.1 billion of extra support for older Australians each year over the forward estimates. This government spent over $13.4 billion in 2019-20 on residential care, up from $9.2 billion in 2012-13, and that will grow by 2023-24 to some $17.1 billion. So we can see, based on our level of investment, the commitment of this government.

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (WA, Deputy-President) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you, Senator Henderson. The time for this debate has expired, and you will be in continuation.