For eight long years now, older Australians and their families have suffered through an aged care system in crisis – a crisis that emerged under this Government’s watch and was aggravated by Scott Morrison’s cuts to the aged care budget of $1.7 billion when Treasurer.
The Royal Commission contained shocking details of the Prime Minister’s neglect - maggots in wounds and 68 per cent of aged care residents malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. The Royal Commission’s comprehensive roadmap for reform was built around 148 recommendations.
The Government’s aged care package falls short of the Royal Commission recommendations. Workforce wages and remuneration, better professional development, a nutrition contingent funding boost, minimum staffing levels, guaranteed nurses 24/7, civil penalties for duty breaches – there are many Royal Commission recommendations cast aside, fobbed off and left unanswered.
Scott Morrison must explain why he has refused to accept recommendations to require a Registered Nurse to be on duty at all times in nursing homes, to increase wages of nurses and carers, to implement a comprehensive workforce plan and all of the other recommendations not implemented by the Government in this budget.
Scott Morrison must explain how his 80,000 additional Home Care packages will clear a waiting list that has been stuck at almost 100,000 for years. Thousands more will seek a home care package over the Budget forward estimates.
Scott Morrison still hasn’t shown an ounce of contrition and acknowledged that it was his cuts to the aged care sector whilst Treasurer that worsened the aged care crisis.
Given this Prime Minister’s huge gap between announcement and delivery, why should older Australians trust him to fix a system he brought to its knees?
Labor will take the time to study the details of the package carefully and to consult with aged care workers, providers, experts and older Australians on the Government’s measures as well as Labor’s approach to aged care reform.