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Albanese needs to ‘Step up to the Plate’ and not avoid debate on Aged Care, Health and Welfare Reform

Labor Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has come under fire from the Conservative Coalition Government for suggesting on the ABC’s ‘Insiders’ program that extra funding may be made available for Aged Care, Health, and perhaps welfare reform. This in a context where billions of subsidies have been provided to businesses due to Covid, and yet many businesses who managed to remain profitable regardless of Covid have simply kept these subsidies provided for them in the form of pure profit. While the Federal Government ruthlessly pursues welfare recipients over any debts incurred (and even some that have turned out to be unreal), corporations enjoy public money without accountability.

The simple fact is that public spending commitments in social services and infrastructure are not necessarily ‘irresponsible’ or ‘wasteful’. Often Government needs to invest in the health and happiness of the people to ensure the best outcomes. What needs to be understood is that social spending is a form of ‘collective consumption’ where we gain a better deal in areas like health by purchasing crucial services more efficiently and collectively as taxpayers, rather than being isolated and fleeced as private consumers. Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme are important examples of collective consumption.

Albanese has spoken of the “habitual buck passing” of the Morrison Government on Aged Care. Failure to attract new workers into the field with fair wages and conditions, and respect for workers; and failure to ensure necessary staffing levels including the presence of Registered Nurses – remain sore points even after the Conservatives’ response to the Aged Care Royal Commission. The training, wages and conditions of Personal Care workers who help many elderly remain in the community are also in need of further funding; and packages must be available to all with the need upon demand; and without cruel waiting queues.

The reality also is that Aged Care reform needs to go beyond the bare essentials to address broader quality of life issues; so that in the future Aged Australians with have access to social engagement; and where those in residential care will enjoy privacy, access to information technology, access to gardens and pleasant surrounds. They must not just be locked in their rooms or sat down in front of TVs in common rooms all day. Our vulnerable elderly need social engagement. Everything from discussing their lives to enjoying games, listening to music, or discussing the issues of the day. Dementia training is also essential to ensure the best quality of life to those affected; and those around them. Quality of food also needs to be monitored closely; and without meeting staff quota targets, Aged Care workers will remain rushed in the business of helping to dress and shower residents daily; or may not be able to respond in a timely manner to situations such as where sheets are soiled. The consequences of under-resourcing have been trauma and suffering for vulnerable aged Australians.

Yes, this will cost billions on top of those limited initiatives already announced. But most of us will grow elderly and frail one day; and even if ourselves we do not experience this, surely we will have family who are affected by a neglected Aged Care sector. Rather than backing down, Albanese needs to ‘step up to the plate’ and confidently put the case for progressive collective consumption of Aged Care; and a much better deal for both ‘consumers’ and for workers in the broader Health sector.

There will also be a significant backlog in waiting lists for supposedly ‘elective’ hospital procedures thanks to the pressure Covid has placed the health system under. This was already a crisis; but has been significantly magnified with Covid. Medicare needs to be extended into dental, optical and prosthetics; but the broader health system needs to be expanded to ensure timely care, breadth of coverage and quality of care.

Australian of the Year, tennis star Dylan Alcott has also highlighted the high unemployment levels (over 50 per cent) for disabled Australians. The focus here was mainly on those with physical disability ; but exclusion from the labour market also applies to those with psycho-social disabilities. Exclusion is a vicious circle which needs to be broken. Sometimes it goes on for years. Often it is permanent. Government needs to intervene directly to provide opportunity for all; and employment needs to be made more viable by lessening means tests for Pensioners in the workforce. Also there need to be viable career paths, and not merely ‘dead end jobs’.

Importantly, Labor needs to pitch to ‘average’ workers as well. Labor needs to pitch to the majority to enjoy electoral success; and provision for equity groups alone will not win government. Delivering wage gains and improving the bargaining position of average workers in the labour market is important here. As is a restructuring of the broader tax system: delivering distributive justice outcomes not only for the most vulnerable, but also the majority of workers. Further; improvement of the Aged Pension could act as a ‘bridge’ which enhances the case for reform of other pensions. Labor needs to build a ‘bloc’ based on solidarity and mutual recognition rather than allowing the Coalition to ‘Divide and Rule’ – which so often has been the case.

So come on, Albo, ‘step up to the plate’. A ‘small target’ can take us so far; but as the campaign progresses voters will want a clearer sense of what Labor is going to do. Labor will need to have answers. And it must not ‘back itself into a corner’ where it cannot deliver significantly to its constituents. Early signs suggest some hope.

This article was originally published on ALP Socialist Left Forum.


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  1. Yes Minister

    EXACTLY. Albo is clearly aware that outgoing governments lose elections rather than incoming governments actually winning. His approach is keeping a low profile to minimize the opportunity for SCUMMO to land blows on him. Certainly SCUMMO is well on the way to losing in spectacular fashion so there is some sense in what Albo is doing. Unfortunately that means Albo’s effectively non-existent policies aren’t getting scrutinized and commented on, which is the people’s right prior to an election. Since I am anything but welded-on to any political persuasion, I am at liberty to throw rocks at whoever I wish. IMO, SCUMMO is a bottom-feeding bloodsucking parasite and the NoNotion (because they don’t have a clue) / GAP / United Australia Party / AustraliaOne quasi-minor party appendages do nothing to excite me. On the other hand, I cannot abide wilted greens hypocrisy, which leaves me a choice between the Albo shemozzle and ‘none of the above’ and currently (given the candidates in my area) the latter is looking good. Albo IMO is a gutless wonder and his lack of policies / abysmal lack of opposition to lying nasty excesses fails to impress me. If any demented lunatic starts crapping on about an informal vote being counted as a 1 for SCUMMO then I’ll scream.

  2. Phil Pryor

    Mr. Y Minister shows up the wordy gutlessness of contrived thinkery, for show perhaps, but not worth a pinch of possum poo, for the niggly negativity, empty expansiveness, circumlocutionary constrictions indicate nothing much, perhaps a young liberal knobpolisher sent out to doorknock. Murderous Morrison is my enemy and I’ll aim to “kill” and win. Murdoch is a foreigner, anti intellectual by instinct, subfascist, brownshirt standard filth in pseudo-dignified atmospheric rarity. Juiced up Joyce, Lamebrain Ley, Cadaverous Colbeck, Hunt the cunning stunt, a whole bench of turdery and tendentious tossers, can all galapagos duck OFF. Scream at that , dicko…

  3. Henry Rodrigues

    A very timely reminder Dr Tristan that this election is a do or die event. I have actually approached my local Fed member and asked him to convey the same message to Albanese. Its not enough to sit by, and hope the apple just falls into your lap. The tree needs shaking, vigorously or gently. But action will be rewarded. The voters are so disillusioned, they want someone who is credible, sincere, with a well thought out vision and real plans to back them.

    I hope Labor is reading listening and taking notes

  4. John Hanna

    Support by governments in the local economy always benefits the local economy, purchases of expensive weapons of war from our “allies” is money spent in THEIR economy which benefits us in NO way. It has always seemed to miss the LNP that having our services such as aged care outsourced to an overseas entity where the profits are drained into an offshore account in a remote tax haven also benefits us in no way. The ALP must realise that Thatcherite/Reaganist neoliberalism does not work to our benefit and certainly does not bolster our internal economy. The ALP has plenty of ammunition and needs to start using it fiercely, they did the same softly softly thing last time and look where that landed us.

  5. pierre wilkinson

    Shorten tried the up front well thought out policies approach and Morrison beat him to death with minor nitpicking over details, lies and promises of Labor disasters without once enumerating any policies of his own, just decrying Labor as wasteful over taxing spendthrifts whilst claiming the opposite to be true of his government.
    I do hope that Albo will keep most of his powder dry this time and simply suggest that Labor policies will be of benefit to the majority of Australians and our country without providing too many details for Morrison from marketing to traduce.

  6. New England Cocky

    Australian voters CANNOT afford another Liarbral Nazional$ COALition misgovernment perpetuating the financial waste of policies buying votes from corporations.

  7. Tristan Ewins

    Small target has worked so far ; but closer to the election voters will want to know what Labor stands for ; That doesn’t mean we overwhelm people ; but we do release a suite of strong policies which provide a mandate for change in government,

  8. Henry Rodrigues

    The pork barreling has commenced with the NSW dopey chipping in with family grants and Scummo following up with fistful of dollars for the health workers etc. This is just coverup and silencing the critics when the real action starts with millions to Coalition electorates for ” car parks, golf courses, shooting ranges, music conservatoriums, roads in Nat’s electorates, inland rail where the fornicator and his hypocritical women voters reap the benefits. Any project that the coalition electorates can ask for, no matter how insignificant in terms of returns, will be approved.

    If Albanese does not shout about all this bullshit, he doesn’t deserve to win. 9 years of playing a straight bat has got us to a stage where we are now afraid to voice our true feeling. If the voters want a corrupt incompetent government, then don’t bother contesting, they’ve already got one. If they want a different way to live, then you have to fight for it. That bastard Murdoch and his maggots can do whatever they wish, we have to do what is right.

  9. Harry Lime

    Scrooge McMorrison,offering the Aged Care workers an all day sucker.What is this effing idiot thinking?Who’s advising him?Brother Stuie?The happy clappy prayer group?After his usual hypocritical,dishonest and woeful offering today at the NPC,the press gallery better tear him a new arsehole.No doubt the MSM stenographers have already been issued with the questions they are allowed to ask.I won’t be watching,he makes me sick,I’ll read the reports later.

  10. Terence Mills

    Interestingly Morrison has announced that he will kick in two one off payments of $400 to aged care workers.

    BUT the federal government will not support the application currently before the Fair Work Commission for a five percent increase in the wages of aged care workers : what the government is doing is a band-aid but as the second one off payment is due to be paid in May it is also pork barreling !

  11. Harry Lime

    With the urgent necessity to bribe your way into the next election with billions of dollars in sneaky slush funds,keeping your non taxpaying corrupt corporate donors on side,there’s no chance the Liar’s crooks could entertain a well deserved and much needed boost to the wages of these essential care givers.Who gives a fck if a couple of thousand old fogies cark it?Their time was up .anyway.And so is the time up for The failed marketeer and his malevolent malingerers…..and a big Hi-de Ho to Dicky Coalbeck…come on down son,your scorecard is waiting.

  12. GL

    Albo might well make a good PM but he still reminds me of a hamster: Comes out of his little house squeaks fiercely a few times and runs out of energy and retires for a rest.

  13. Harry Lime

    Well, as expected, the fraud Morrison had to wipe the shit off his mouth several times at the NPC,,and he did come away with a second arsehole.Everything going swimmingly,eh Smirka? How long O Lord,how long?”Not long”, he opined. I’ll take an honest hamster over a pathological lying porker anyday,GL.

  14. GL


    “I’ll take an honest hamster over a pathological lying porker anyday,GL.” I agree with you on that matter.

  15. Terence Mills

    No love for Morrison at the National Press Club today.

    One very odd question from Peter Van Onselen who asked Morrison to comment on a text message exchange between former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and an unnamed sitting Federal cabinet minister, where he was described as ‘a fraud’, ‘a complete psycho’ and ‘a horrible person’.

    Van Onselen, a sometime academic, sometime columnist with The Australian and sometime host of Channel ten’s The Project was evidently in possession of these text messages so presumably the unnamed federal cabinet minister leaked them : that federal minister needs to come clean.

    Who do you think it is ?

    Is it Spudley Dutton and is he readying for a coup ?

    In the meantime Morrison had trouble answering the question – best ask the Australian people.

  16. corvusboreus

    I like that Ms Berejiklian didn’t actually deny sending those excoriating texts about ‘scomo’, just that she had “no recollection” of doing so.

    Remember kids, never text while drunk.

  17. corvusboreus

    I’d give better way odds on Freydenberg than the dutton creature as the source.
    The dutton-thing would be more likely to have texted “SCOMOS A
    F💥CKEN PSYCHO C💥NT!” then accidentally sent the message straight to Morrison’s phone.

  18. Canguro

    No-one would ever refer to Albo as horrible, untrustworthy, a fraud and a psycho. Not even his detractors.

    The ALP can make electoral gold from this prime-ministerial dungheap; drum it into the brains of the electorate that these are the choices, between sanity and madness, trustworthiness and the con man, honesty and the carpetbagger.

    Nobody supports horrible fraudulent nutcases… and if these comments are as they are purported to be, from within the LNP ranks, then it should follow that Morrison is now in deep shit, per his putative electability.

  19. Harry Lime

    Canguro, the only thing visible now of the Liar is the footpath side of his shoes.And they’re caked with the shit he’s been talking for the last twenty years or so..isn’t karma a wonderful thing?

  20. totaram

    “but we do release a suite of strong policies which provide a mandate for change in government,”

    Please define how we can recognise these. Better still, tell us how the suite of policies released for the last election were not strong, or did not provide a mandate.
    Over to you.

  21. Tristan Ewins

    In fact even a 25% wage rise might not be enough in Aged Care. There should be a minimum wage in the Sector of $30/hour.

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