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“I called the Royal Commission”

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.

Seriously.

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.

Emails revealed at the RC show a flurry of activity in response to programs on the ABC whilst reports from the department on how to address the problems languished on the Minister’s desk.

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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20 comments

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  1. Ill fares the land

    But surely you are discounting the fact that in Morrison’s bizarre inner world of delusion, he is convinced that he is contributing to the solution rather than the being a root cause, with others, of the problem. He is a marketing hack, so he can readily buy into his own fantasy (after all, for him, God is real and Houston truly speaks God’s word). Put another way, he can lie with credibility and that is possible only if he believes he is being truthful or serving a higher purpose. On top of that, and this is where things get really, really sick, his brain dead followers don’t read the Aim, or the Conversation, The Guardian and so on – they read the mainstream media drivel that doesn’t do stories on Morrison’s lies, vacuity and incompetence, so they only see him doing “stuff”.

  2. wam

    Scummo has no mentor but his version of the god of the jews and no role model except trump. What damage he and the other reactionaries are doing is under their ‘redact’ system
    Only albo can get the morning shows excited. Is he up to it???

    As long as I have been with the school sector and observing the local government sector with my darling(20 years plus 30 years as principal), when anyone, in public or private enterprise gets a whiff of public money, the rorts come at every level indeed consultants are used to devise new ways to rip into the trough.
    The worst offender, in my experience, was the nt government who were so bad, especially at misusing Aboriginal money, that the lying rodent had to direct the spending. A close second came the private church schools. But those cheats didn’t stop him making the aged care sector unaccountable and away went the cash into schemes that invariably made profits for a few at a cost of the misery of the many.
    Without an evaluation mechanism the allocation of more fund will just window dress the sector and have little effect beyond enriching the shareholders.
    Loved wyatt’s bi-partisan quote for scummo and wyatt it means ‘yes, minister’. Bot his lnp cares more is scary if he gets people to agree.
    ps the most needed royal commission is into tertiary education where university HECS and decisions, like the rabbott’e giving institutions, including his daughter’s scholarship alma mater, access to VETFEE HELP, all need evaluation.
    pps thanks boobby

  3. pierre wilkinson

    no surprises there,
    do you recall that he proudly claimed that HE brought about the royal commission into banking?
    despite voting against it 26 times
    a bit like them claiming marriage equality was their program
    sigh

  4. Paul Davis

    National Press Club address today. Ashton Applewhite is an activist who tells it like it is regarding “ageism.” Powerful presentation explains so clearly how we all are being used abused and devalued. Age is just another way in which we are divided and conquered. She (well of course, aren’t almost all advocates for social justice and decency female) doesn’t just point an accusing finger but highlights how discrimination can be and is being addressed positively.

    Recommend this address to everyone…. watch repeat or podcast. Should be compulsive viewing for every politician especially our present Ministry.

  5. Patricia

    Ken Wyatt is just a liberal shill, nothing more.

    If he was truly a representative for aboriginal people he would not be in the liberal party.

    Bill Shorten was absolutely correct, the aged care industry is in national crisis.

    Aged care should never be run by for profit corporations, once something is an “industry” all humanity is expunged and the race for higher and higher profits is the only game on.

    Under Ken Wyatt’s not so tender ministrations as Minister for Aged Care for four years the aged care sector has gone from bad to worse with neither Wyatt nor the liberals doing anything other than making the situation for our frail and vulnerable aged in the washing machine that is aged care even worse than it was made under the war criminal Howard.

  6. Phil

    ‘ Ken Wyatt is just a liberal shill, nothing more.’
    ‘ If he was truly a representative for aboriginal people he would not be in the liberal party.’

    Absolutely correct.

    Ken Wyatt must live in a cave. He is the member of a party that would have him hanging in a gum tree. It is not so many years ago, if Wyatt had proclaimed his Aboriginality in parliament house, they would have had a separate toilet installed for him.

    This government cares about as much for the aged as for our first people. Wyatt is an opportunist.

  7. New England Cocky

    This sounds like the age-old Department of Education rant when the governments or all persuasions refused pay rises for teachers. “Only the good teachers stay in the classrooms looking after kids” but failed to add “and because that divides and conquers the union the government is not prepared to change the 19th century working conditions or pay scales”.

    @Phil et al: ‘ Ken Wyatt is just a liberal shill, nothing more.’ Agreed. He is tolerated by the Liarbrals because like Aboriginal former Senator Bonner, the token Aboriginal in previous Liarbral governments, he enjoys the perks of office as much as the rest of them.

  8. Matters Not

    Yes, the Aged Care Industry is in a mess. So much so, that the government will be forced to significantly increase funding. At the same time it’s aiding and abetting more dollars from the public purse taking a quick trip to the Caymans for cleansing purposes

    Its latest decision is to approve the takeover of nursing homes and retirement village group Aveo to the Canadian financiers from Brookfield. Some 13,000 Australians live in their homes.

    For Australian citizens, the rub is that Brookfield are financial engineers, asset strippers. They pay no income tax in Australia so they can afford to pitch a higher price for the things they buy here.

    Further:

    The question therefore should be asked of FIRB, what the blazes are you people doing? And why is Treasurer Josh Frydenberg signing off on enormous asset sales to tax havens when the upshot is high risk (via high debt levels) of default, poor service levels and plunging tax receipts?

    Oh what a solution! And of course, it’s on the front pages. Not!

    https://www.michaelwest.com.au/another-tax-haven-sale-pyramids-of-brookfield-get-treasurers-tick-to-take-aged-care-empire-firb-aveo-brookfield/

  9. Anton Hutchinson

    While I understand that some people would prefer that all aged care facilities would be government operations the truth comes down to the one sad fact.
    The government couldn’t run a chook raffle. Oakden was a government facility and just in queensland alone there are 12 government homes on sanctions. And this is a system that can just spend and spend unlike the funding provided to private facilities.
    I don’t know any owner of an aged care facility that wouldn’t gladly sell their business to the Government. Then you would see what a mess looks like.
    To the dirty P word,profit…what business doesn’t deserve to make a profit? Why would any industry operate expecting to not make money?
    Half the homes in the country aren’t sufficiently funded to meet operation cost. This means that they are actually losing money but the media and illinformed still like to lie about profits, holidays and luxury cars as being the norm. Stupid people that just want to hate. I hope you get to live in a home run by the Government one day. $2000 a day to stay in hospital and $200 in a nursing home.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Anton,

    That private businesses must make profits to survive is understandable. One would hope that they then pay taxes on their profits so we can keep the system sustainable. Sadly, that is often not the case,

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/mar/08/bupa-reaches-157m-settlement-with-tax-office-after-decade-long-dispute

    But governments must make regulations to ensure adequate care is provided.

    My mother died in September after having spent almost 11 years in a nursing home. I spent that 11 years fighting to have the money the nursing home was given for her care actually spent on her. I wrote to Ken Wyatt pleading with him to legislate staff to resident ratios. He replied that “there is no Commonwealth legislation prescribing minimum numbers of staff on duty at any time”, that it was “the responsibility of individual aged care homes”, and suggested that I “discuss it with her aged care provider”. Who writes to the Minister without having tried their hardest with the provider and all avenues of complaint first?

    When Wyatt got concerned about restraints (due to ABC reporting), that was passed on to nursing homes. In their wisdom/fear, that caused my mother’s residence to take away her concave mattress without speaking to me or checking her record of falls. She then fell out of bed, hitting her head on the metal bed frame on the way down, causing horrendous cuts, bruising and swelling.

    I could go on and on and on about what my mother suffered – I am slowly starting to feel I must but I am getting some small insight into why abuse victims find it so hard to relive their experience.

    In the most part, the staff did their best – some of them were my support too – I am fighting for them as much as for the residents.

  11. Matters Not

    Re the one sad fact

    The government couldn’t run a chook raffle

    Am tempted to ask whether you are referring to this government in particular or governments in general but I won’t – given you then add lots of invective re government e.g.

    gladly sell their business to the Government … would see what a mess looks like … get to live in a home run by the Government one day.

    While there’s no doubt that governments are less than perfect, are you advocating that government (broadly defined) should retreat further from the administration of the Aged Care sector like they did with the building industry – high rises in particular? Do you have suggestions that might be helpful?

    Are you one of the 370 000 people who work in that sector? An owner of an establishment? An investor? etc. Please tell. Take the opportunity. There’s nothing to lose.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Almost twenty years ago….

    “Prime Minister John Howard has adamantly defended his minister, Bishop, and denied the existence of any nursing homes crisis. “I don’t accept it’s a crisis,” he said on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Lateline TV program. “I mean that is just a ridiculous exaggeration. It is a very sad and regrettable incident concerning one nursing home.”

    Yet a litany of reports has surfaced in the media about conditions in other nursing homes, indicating that the problem is systemic. Bishop acknowledged that her department had received over 4,000 complaints in the last two-and-a-half years.”

    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2000/03/aged-m10.html

  13. Matters Not

    KL, like lots of others, my mother died in an aged care facility and it’s my fervent wish that I don’t go down that track. And yes I am across the literature. But maybe Anton has something new to add. Seems to me, he thinks so.

    Let him fire away.

  14. Phil

    A friend of mine made an unannounced visit to a private aged care nursing home recently and discovered his 86 year old mother tied to the bed. The matter is still being investigated. The home btw makes to use that dirty word, a handsome profit. These private caring facilities are a license to print money.

  15. Kaye Lee

    MN,

    It’s still raw. You would know what I mean.

  16. Peter F

    Kaye, that must have been an horrific experience for both of you. I was fortunate that my mother entered an aged care facility run by a local community not-for- profit group. Here experience was of total CARE, right up until she died in her own bed a few weeks before her 98th birthday.

    All profits are returned to the improvement of the home, and there are simple things like a meal service which has a choice of at least two, often three main courses; individual desert served at the table from mobile trolleys; a glass of wine with the meal; etc.etc.

    If this home can provide the high level of care and still make a profit to spend on improvements, those whose main aim is profit could at least approach what is provided here.

  17. Kaye Lee

    It’s heartening to hear a good news story for a change Peter.

  18. totaram

    I was waiting to hear more from Anton, according to whom “I don’t know any owner of an aged care facility that wouldn’t gladly sell their business to the Government.”

    Why then was the whole thing privatised? Can anyone please explain?

    Are the owners of electricity, gas, telecommunications, banking, public transport, child care (Dutton!) etc. all dying to sell back to the government? That would really be so nice, but all I hear is crickets.

  19. Josephus

    The usual thing is to drug any old person who complains. My mother was such a one. One nurse at her Home declared that drugs were not the answer. She employed persuasion and appeals to my mother’s vanity, which worked. In another home we learnt (4 Corners) that when an intelligent and articulate inmate complained, scurrilous lies were spread about her. Meanwhile a BUPA run Home in Canberra has been sanctioned; its website is poorly written- do they have no Microsoft spell and grammar check?- showing how little they care.

    If only home packages were sufficient and well run, and Aged Care polite and helpful. Dream on.

  20. Kaye Lee

    totaram, I may be able to offer some explanation.

    Having been given cash to spend as they saw fit for the previous three years, business operators were free to exit the industry before January 1, 2001, the next accreditation deadline, without having invested a cent in improvements, and then sell their bed licenses for up to $35,000 each, the going price on the Sydney market at that time.

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