Thursday, 10 February 2022
Questions without Notice
N () (): My question is to the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator Colbeck. In an article entitled '"Yelling out for help": the atrocious conditions inside Australia's aged care homes', aged-care worker Jess said:
One of the worst situations I saw was a lady with quite severe dementia, and she was sitting in her own poo and urine … which had also gone all over the floor. It was an infection risk and a slip risk and I was just thinking: this is a—
What does the minister have to say to Jess?
Firstly I say to Jess: thank you for the work that you do in residential aged care in this country. It's really important. I don't think I can count the number of times I've expressed my gratitude and thanks to the aged-care workforce and appreciation for the work that they do.
An opposition senator: But not a wage rise!
Senator, on four occasions now we've provided bonus payments. We've provided bonus payments on four occasions now to senior Australians. The Labor Party chatter on about a pay rise for aged-care workers but they don't acknowledge that they won't put a number on it themselves. They expect that the Australian government will do it, but in opposition they're not prepared to say or do anything. They say that it's a job for the independent Fair Work Commission, which they legislated. There is so much hypocrisy on that side of the chamber in relation to this.
I thank Jess for the work that she does—I really do. I know that it's a tough job and I appreciate the work that she continues to do. We will continue to work with the sector, and with Fair Work Australia as the case progresses in relation to workforce wages. We'll provide the information that Fair Work Australia seeks and support them in that process.
Aged-care resident Rose, who was unable to go outside for fresh air while her home was in lockdown, has said:
I think the aged care minister, Richard Colbeck, is an absolute disgrace. I mean going to the cricket … what are his priorities, really? Does he know what's going on?
What does the minister have to say to Rose?
Thank you, Rose, for your opinion. I tend to disagree. Of course, this is the nasty personal politics that the Labor Party want to play. They're not interested in actually fixing aged care. How do we know that, Mr President? Because they have no policy—not a single response to the royal commission after almost a year. Tell Rose that, Senator Grogan! Tell Rose that almost a year after the royal commission reported you don't have a response. This government has $18.3 billion on the table in response to the royal commission. You have nothing, not a thing.
A government senator: Not a dollar.
There was not a dollar for aged care, a mention of aged care or funding for aged care—
Opposition senators interjecting—
An opposition senator: It's all words!
Government senators interjecting—
in any budget response during the term of this government—not a single dollar for aged care. A year after the royal commission there's no response, not a dollar, and this government has a full response, fully funded, on the table. (Time expired)
As I've just indicated, residents in residential aged care are safer with a coalition government than they are with a Labor government, because the Labor government has no policy and has had no policy for years. At the 2019 election there was not a dollar for home care, not a dollar for mainstream residential aged care and not a dollar for workforce. They come in here with no policy, over a full term of parliament, and no response to the royal commission almost a year after the royal commission has reported. We have a full response to every single recommendation of the royal commission and $18.3 billion on the table. What have Labor got? Zip! Nothing! What a disgrace! They come in here to play politics, but we come in here to fix the problems of aged care. We called the royal commission because we knew what the issues were, and now we've responded to the royal commission. Labor has done nothing!