Scott Morrison seems to feel the fact that a Four Corners investigation forced him to call a Royal Commission into Aged Care cancels out how it has been the Coalition’s own actions and inactions that have caused this crisis.
In May, I wrote an article about How John Howard contributed to the aged care crisis.
It is a horror story of how the Howard government paved the way for profiteering and neglect – nursing home operators no longer had to allocate a set proportion of government subsidies to patient care, links between the level of funding received and the number of qualified staff employed were removed, the previous requirement for a registered nurse to be on duty was scrapped, and no spot checks were carried out.
In May 2018, Bill Shorten said that the aged care industry was “in a state of national crisis”.
“That’s extreme language, but this situation in aged care calls for extreme,” Mr Shorten said, arguing the government has been “asleep at the wheel” for the last five years.
Aged Care Minister, Ken Wyatt, responded angrily.
“I’m slow to anger but I must admit that recently the Opposition Leader commenting that the system is in crisis and a national disgrace was not becoming of what I would expect in a bilateral and bipartisan approach to aged care.
“This demeans every one of those dedicated aged care workers and it achieves nothing but instilling fear into the hearts and minds of older Australians, just like Labor did in the lead-up to the last election when they were peddling ‘Medi-scare’ lies designed to scare the most deserving.
“For the Opposition Leader to continue this fear-mongering is verging on the abuse of elder Australians and it must stop.”
Mr Wyatt argued that the Turnbull government cared more about older Australians than Labor given their proposal to remove the cash refund arrangement on excess dividend imputation credits.
A couple of days before the Four Corners investigation, Who Cares, was to air, Scott Morrison rushed to announce a Royal Commission into Aged Care. This was a government turnaround directly in anticipation of the damning ABC expose.
When interviewed for the program about a month earlier, Wyatt had said a royal commission would be an unnecessary move because the Government was already reviewing the sector.
“A royal commission, after two years and maybe $200 million being spent on it, will come back with the same set or a very similar set of recommendations,” he said, preferring to see that money go towards frontline aged care services.
Protecting his precious surplus, Morrison is willing to let people die while waiting for help.
Not only that, he wants kudos for calling yet another inquiry into a crisis of his party’s making in its never-ending pursuit of profit and deregulation
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