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Second reading, Aged Care Amendment (Aged Care Recipient Classification) Bill 2020, Senate, 10 December 2020

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.

10 December 2020

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