On Saturday 2 April 2022, the Federal Member for Whitlam, Mr Stephen Jones MP, posed this question to the Prime Minister Mr Morrison on social media:
“Does Scott Morrison really want to go to this election arguing that we can’t afford to feed and care for our grandparents?”
It is a pertinent question for Mr Jones to put to the Prime Minister, because the only response we have heard from the Federal Government regarding the Labor Party’s Aged Care policy initiative has been the feeble, indeed risible, response of “we can’t afford it”, a matter which I shall subsequently address herein. May I also say at the outset of this article, my late mother feared and fought against the whole notion of being placed in an aged care facility, even though her physical needs required it, undoubtedly because of the news reports about the disgraceful way the successive Liberal Federal Governments had treated the sector for the past 9 years. My mum died in her own home, but prior to her passing she told me and my two brothers she did not ever want to be placed in aged care. These are fears which are consistently reported around the country about this much neglected sector.
I will return to Labor’s Aged Care policy initiative in a moment, as the Morrison Government’s whimper of affordability must be called out so that we examine their shocking economic management of this country. Mr Stephen Koukoulas, an esteemed economic intellect in this country has concurred with Labor’s assessment of the Morrison Government’s budget mismanagement, an assessment which opines under the Morrison Government Australia will spend more in debt interest than it does to fund the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Mr Koukoulas also agrees with Labor’s further assessment that under the Morrison Government’s mismanagement of the budget we will soon be spending more on interest than we spend on Medicare.
Take some time to fully comprehend the gravity of this economic assessment; remember, the Morrison Government were elected in 2019 on the back of the astonishing promise “Back in Black”, when by 2019 the successive Liberal governments since 2014 had incurred 100% more national debt (yes doubled it) than any other government in our by then 118 years of federation. The highly respected economics, business and political commentator, Michael Pascoe, provided a sobering opinion for all Australians to consider regarding the Morrison’s Government’s mishandling of the budget in his article published in The New Daily on 31 March 2022 in which he said:
“What’s tucked away in a single overlooked chart is the Treasury’s forecast that our economic recovery, the one supposedly “leading the world”, hits the wall next year.”
Mr Pascoe considers all that Mr Frydenberg’s budget (one which he and many other commentators remark to be a short-sighted political ploy to win votes) has done is to encourage the Reserve Bank of Australia to start lifting interest rates sooner rather than later, that is it’s a cash splash toxic fuel poured over an already run-away fire of an inflation problem. A link to Mr Pascoe’s article is posted here below for you to consider, as he also highlights the Morrison Government’s other waste of funds and economic failures.
So, the Morrison Government’s feeble attack on Labor’s Aged Care policy when considered in light of the matters raised herein by Mr Koukoulas and Mr Pascoe, in addition to us also considering the Federal Government’s waste of our money in the sum of $5.5Billion on the French nuclear submarine deal, the $20Billion waste of Jobkeeper payments to undeserving companies and of course, the great unanswered question as to how they doubled the debt before the 2019 Federal Election, are just some of the numerous examples of economic mismanagement of our money by the Morrison Government.
Most disturbingly, there is the mismanagement of the aged care sector itself which includes the approximate 1,500 deaths in this sector arising from the Morrison Government’s poor handling of the Covid-19 crisis in that sector. Indeed, on 28 February 2022 HelloCare journalist Amy Henderson reported a recent Aged Care Collaboration (‘ACC’) survey has uncovered widespread uncertainty among two-thirds of aged care providers towards the Morrison Government’s reform process as there is minimal transparency (that is a common complaint about the Federal Government), inadequate consultation and vague commitments being at the height of their frustration. The ACC, which represents major providers of aged care, has also been particularly critical of the Morrison Government’s lack of commitment to lift the pay for aged care workers.
In general, the aged care sector has criticised the Morrison Government’s response to the aged care crisis as anaemic: too little, too slow and too late (particularly in relation to Covid).The list of other failures of poor governance and economic mismanagement by the Morrison Government are too far and wide for me to address each item now, and of course we are now in the unfortunate position of having the world focus on an Australian Prime Minister in Mr Morrison who has some serious questions being asked about his character flaws, namely the reports about his alleged racism (he hasn’t addressed why Mr Chapman would sign a statutory declaration corroborating Mr Towke’s version of events, and Mr Baird’s comment today “I didn’t hear anything” does not impugn Mr Chapman’s statutory declaration and is only consistent with Mr Baird being a close friend of Mr Morrison and therefore lacking in objectivity), bullying (Mr Morrison has not explained Senator Hanson’s complaint) and seemingly pathological propensity to continuously lie (once again, I quote President Macron, “I don’t think, I know”, as well as Mr Morrison denying he used the racist term ‘Shanghai Sam’ only for the media evidence, and his own Twitter account, to prove otherwise).
Now we shall return to the question Mr Jones MP posed to the Prime Minister two days ago and it is a question I pose to you regarding our aged care sector. Labor’s Aged Care policy initiative focusses on treating older Australians with the respect they deserve. Older Australians helped build this country by working hard, paying their taxes, and raising their families. An Albanese Labor Government will take practical measures to ensure older Australians receive the aged care they deserve by:
- Every aged care facility being required to have a registered, qualified nurse on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Raising the standard of aged care across the board by ensuring there are carers, who have more time to care, and Labor ensure proper care being provided by mandating every Australian living in aged care receives an average of 215 minutes of care per day, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aged Care.
- Backing a pay rise for aged care workers by supporting workers’ calls for better pay at the Fair Work Commission.
- Ensuring there is better food for residents of aged care facilities, which includes Labor working with the sector to develop and implement mandatory nutrition standards for aged care homes to ensure every resident gets good food.
- Making residential providers report, in public and in detail, what they are spending money on, including providing to the Aged Care Safety Commissioner new powers to ensure there is accountability and integrity.
Ms Amanda Copp, the Political Reporter for National Radio News, tweeted on 3 April 2022 the clear problem in the aged care sector is worker shortages, as pay and conditions need to improve if they want people to work there. Labor’s Aged Care policy initiative will place security, dignity, quality, and humanity back into aged care, including attracting more people to work in the sector. Is that too much for a wealthy country to ask for? The Morrison Government in the wake of their misuse of our funds and budget mismanagement, have had the temerity to pose the question of affordability of Labor’s Aged Care policy, which, amongst all of Labor’s other policies, has been fully costed at $2.5Billion (less than half of the ridiculous Hells Gate Dam announcement Mr Morrison made in North Queensland and less than half of the contractual damages which WE will have to pay for the French submarine contract being broken). Perhaps the best words on the question of funding are the words Mr Albanese spoke on 3 April 2022 when he was being interviewed by Mr Chris Uhlmann of Nine News, who in response to a question about unfunded costs said:
“That is there because of wages of whoever is in government, and the Prime Minister had to concede that on Friday. The question is this, why is it this Prime Minister can’t say that aged care workers deserve a wage increase?”
Mr Albanese’s question, and Mr Jones’ question as well, are fairly put to the Prime Minister, and we as a population, which has benefited from the rewards of the hard work people in aged care previously gave to us, need to ask ourselves where our moral and ethical compass is pointing to regarding the aged care sector. The aged care sector is in crisis under the Morrison Government. Labor’s Aged Care policy will lead our aged population out of crisis to the care and dignity they deserve. Costs become an irrelevant question when your moral compass points in the direction of proper and dignified treatment of our aged population in aged care.
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