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Morrison’s Legacy

By 2353NM

So Australia is going to have another Royal Commission, this time into Aged Care. It really doesn’t matter if the announcement was a pre-emptive response to the two-part ABCTV 4 Corners program or a Fairfax media investigation, if the events just happened to coincide or some other happenstance.

For a change we come to praise Morrison, not to bury him (with apologies to William Shakespeare). While the terms of reference and the Commissioner have yet to be announced, it is not likely that the Commission will be a placebo as there is considerable public support for the Inquiry. However, Morrison doesn’t get off scot free (pun intended). In the 2016 federal budget, then Treasurer Morrison cut $1.2billion from the budget for the aged care sector. At the time, The Conversation reported

In aged care, $1.2 billion will be saved through the “better use of funding”. Some of the $249 million reinvestments will be welcomed, including $102 million to improve services for those living in rural and remote areas, $10 million for unannounced compliance site visits of aged care providers and $136 million for My Aged Care, a contact point for older people seeking to explore their aged care options.

Yet it is difficult to see how these relatively small investments will meet the intended aims of “preventing a spending blowout” in coming years and are likely to shift increasing costs of aged care to future governments.

By the time of the 2018 budget, Morrison was increasing funding to support older Australians staying in their own home, conceptually not a bad idea as people are more comfortable in familiar surroundings, but arguably again putting pressure on those providing residential aged care facilities.

Traditionally, residential aged care was provided by government, religious bodies and other non-profit organisations. While the majority of the religious and non-profit bodies hearts were probably in the right place, over the years there have been the gradual introduction of mandatory standards, introduction of hoops to jump through for those who need to access residential aged care and reductions in government funding to contend with. The religious and non-profit sector don’t have an imperative to supply a dividend to their shareholders (as public and private ‘for-profit’ companies do), but they do need to retain a level of profitability to fund additional services, upgrades to the facilities and comply with required standards as they are tightened. The Conversation recently discussed the difficulties of making money out of aged care. So, it makes sense in a climate of declining funding and decreasing levels of membership of religious and non-profit bodies that they would consider the no doubt generous offer from a ‘for profit’ sector operator to come in and take on the future operations of existing residential aged care facilities.

There are obvious efficiencies in combining the ‘back of house’ operations if a number of smaller residential aged care facilities were combined in areas such as payroll, accounts payable and receivable as well as compliance, building maintenance and operations, marketing and so on. There are also a number of larger service providers that will probably come through the Royal Commission process more or less unscathed. By the same token, the funding for aged care is not actually tied to the provision of services to residents. It’s probably reasonable to suggest that the greater the distance between the management and those receiving the service, the greater the possibility that the level of individual and personal care offered to residents could be submerged under averages, balance sheets and PowerPoint presentations.

Fairfax media has published their suggested terms of reference for the forthcoming Royal Commission. How many of the suggestions Morrison uses is, at the moment, anyone’s guess. Evidence so far presented in the media suggests that if the Aged Care Royal Commission is as diligent as other recent Royal Commissions (maybe with the exception of Abbott’s ‘kill Bill’ Royal Commission into alleged misdeeds of the Trade Union movement), the Australian public is in for another few years of literally shocking revelations of how some of those who are supposed to be caring for individual Australians abuse and misuse the trust we have shown in them.

Likewise, assuming Morrison is fair dinkum about the Royal Commission and allows it to investigate the dark corners and hidden crevices as Gillard did with the Institutional Abuse Royal Commission and Turnbull did with the Royal Commission into the Finance Industry (after he was dragged kicking and screaming to establish it), it will be a richly deserved positive feature in history’s judgement of Morrison’s Prime Ministership. This is regardless of his previous actions in this space or his Prime Ministership generally. Gillard rightly gets the kudos for the establishment of the Institutional Abuse Commission and the Banking and Finance Commission has been so successful that large companies are pre-empting the Commission’s findings through actions such as refunding inappropriately or illegally charged fees – thanks to Turnbull’s terms of reference.

Along with the other recent Royal Commissions, Morrison’s Aged Care Royal Commission has the potential to make Australia a fairer society, by demonstrating that we as a nation value and support all Australians. And that’s not a bad thing.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Daniela Ruegg

    Scott Morrison is only wanting a royal commission into aged care to cover his backside ! Morrison together with the whole LNP and Labor colleagues is part of the demise of all Australian agencies ND SERVICES.

  2. Kerri

    I think Morrison will milk it ‘til it’s cheese.

  3. wam

    A royal commissions can be successful or no more effective than a few people at the pub on a sunday afternoon. The banks have a long way to go but the revelations have been worse than expected. So bad that self regulation and auditors are in for a redtape pasting.
    But unless the terms of reference muzzle commission privatisation will be exposed as the greedy sham that it has been since little johnnie.
    Judging by the ABC shock we will be able to tell if the son of a small car is serious or not by the gender of the commissioner.

  4. Zathras

    I think it was obvious to Morrison that Aged Care was going to be “the next big thing”, so pre-emptively announcing an enquiry made him not only seem proactive but also serves to diffuse it as another potential political distraction.

    Conveniently the findings won’t be announced until after the next election so he can promise anything he wants as the investigation progresses, ignoring costings and other implications. He can offer boundless sympathy as the story unfolds and gain political points for it.

    That’s how politicians turn problems into assets.

    Then again, both Abbott and Turnbull were big on pre-election promises too.

  5. Kaye Lee

    All of these Royal Commissions have come about because of the work of journalists (usually from Four Corners, sometimes in conjunction with Fairfax – include the Don Dale case and the Murray-Darling water theft with the Institutional response to child sex abuse, the banking RC and now aged care). In every case, the regulators/authorities already knew about the problems and did nothing about them. There have already been countless inquiries into the aged care sector. Whilst the RC may lead to some change (I will believe it when I see it), Morrison gets no credit for this from me. He knew what was coming, including the criticism of inaction by government, so he did what he has done with everything so far – he took a defensive reactive move rather than any form of proactive action on what they have known to be a problem for a long time. Do you think he would have called a RC without the program about to air? I, myself, wrote to the Minister months ago detailing many of the same issues in my mother’s nursing home. He wrote back basically telling me to sort it out myself.

  6. Kronomex

    While Scummo grows commissions like mushrooms to keep people distracted Heinrich Duttonuci wants to –

    Morriscum is, to my point of view, trying to set up a full blown one party dictatorship before his term as PM is up so we don’t have to worry about those annoying elections where people who just don’t know how good we have it under the LNP might vote them out. Scary, scary times ahead.

  7. Phil

    Morrison gets zero credit from me for the aged care Royal Commission – zilch. Any government that sits idly by whilst knowing the extent of issues underlying in this instance, aged care, deserves nothing but contempt. While Abbott, Turnbull and now Morrison dithered and stalled, the lives of thousands of our fellow citizens were being systematically dehumanised. Abbott’s obsessive hatred of trade unionism led him to pour $millions into chasing shadows – for no national good. It took our ABC to force conservatives to respond to the Murray basin water theft, the banking and finance sector and now aged care.

    Any wonder the ABC is conservatism’s public enemy number one.

  8. Frank Smith

    If the so-called Government were actually doing its job of competently governing there would be no need for this flurry of Royal Commissions. RCs are being used as an alternative to Government.

  9. Kaye Lee

    It will be very interesting to see who replaces Michelle Guthrie. Will they install someone who will fight for the ABC or someone who will lay down for the government?

  10. Henry Rodrigues

    Helvityni…… My feeling exactly. I personally know of one person in her eighties, who was admitted into an aged care facility, after she had a fall, and within a few months couldn’t stand it any longer so she decided on a way out by starving herself to death, self euthanasia by choice. Her family and her friends were all very understanding but deferred to her wishes. I was there a few days before she passed away and it was sad but that was what she had decided was the only way for her. Not very complimentary of the aged care system.

  11. helvityni

    Henry, my friend finally had to take her mum out of her very expensive and luxurious care home; the care did not match the surroundings, the architecture, the plushness…( she lost a lot of money in the process)

    I saw the place and found it almost too good to be true; sadly it’s not all gold that glitters…

    When at high school my daughter and her friend did not want to play a certain ball game, they were excused , they had to spend the same amount of time at the a local nursing home; they both were red-eyed when coming home, they had witnessed too much abuse of the elderly…and went back to kicking the ball instead….

  12. Rhonda

    The 4Corners investigation into the aged (doesn’t) care sector was painful and traumatic viewing. Morrison, the flucker, sensibly made a preemptive strike in calling a RC before the segments aired. Not because he’s a good guy, but because his government was sprung. I’m worried for our ABC

  13. Roger

    The early response of the govt in setting up an Aged Care RC is more to do with avoiding calls for any broader terms of reference. Besides the physical and psychological abuses in Aged Care shown on 4 Corners, the systemic financial advantage taken of pensioners going into both Aged care facilities and Retirement villages needs to be examined. If the likes of Lendlease, Stockland, Property Council of Australia (PCA) etc were required to declare their financial strategies as to how they take advantage of pensioners, then?

    Remember, the LNP set up the Terms of Reference for the Banking RC so as to avoid exposing the worst of structural fraud. If the actions of APRA, ASIC etc had been included in the RC then the outcome might serve us better in the long run, but for the govt, who wants to fix a system that is obviously working for 5 percent of the population? Structural fraud in the banking system here:

  14. helvityni

    Spot on Rhonda!

  15. Adrianne Haddow

    My dad is in a nursing ( and I use the term loosely) home.

    As helvityni said, the facilities resemble a luxury apartment, but the quality of care is inconsistent.

    Some carers are good, and have a good relationship with my very social father, Others I would think twice about leaving my dog in their care. One, in particular, told Dad he was just lazy….. this said to a wheelchair- bound man.

    Dad is there because he is immobile, and has other health issues, but he is also lucid, and has not yet reached the state of not noticing day to day inadequacies in the care, nor has he yet become institutionalised.

    Yet his complaints regarding the quality of the food or the lack of service are met with, “other residents like the food, we did a survey”. Considering half of them wouldn’t notice what they ate or if they ate, I don’t find such surveys are plausible.

    His questioning of the training of staff, who can’t change a catheter without causing him to wake in a wet bed, always result in ‘our staff are fully trained’. One wonders if that means they completed the whole 6 weeks of training with a dodgy training company.

    It is not good enough that Dad has invested a fairly hefty amount of his hard earned savings to live in this home, yet is treated like a recalcitrant child when he asks for the type of service for which he is paying.

  16. Christopher

    I took on my Uncle after my Dad passed and brought him up from Adelaide, where he’d been living in a private ‘hostel’.

    We tried him in the community, but we eventually got him to accept an offer of a nursing home beds with one of the not for profits.

    The care could be a lot better. John is mobile, but has bipolar and early dementia. He pays the same amount as everyone on the pension 85% of it, but gets a fraction of the nursing, as he doesn’t need it.

    He isn’t happy, wants to be ‘somewhere else’ – it’s a hospital, disguised as a home.

    What really worries me is what could happen to him when he goes into the locked ward. That’s where the abuse is likely to occur – particularly when you are unable to advocate for yourself.

    Keep up the good work.

  17. Lord John

    Very moving Henry and sorry for your loss.

  18. Kyran

    It’s funny that you’re already eulogizing his PM’ship. Do you know something we don’t?
    It seems odd to note he is due to offer his apology for the RC into child abuse, whilst there are ongoing incidents regarding the children in our institutional care being subject to the most horrific abuse on Nauru and in our ‘on-shore’ gulags. Not to mention our First People’s children. As the apology will be on the 22nd October and the Wentworth by election will be on the 20th, the timing could have been better. Or not.
    Mind you, parliamentary apologies for RC’s haven’t gone too well in the past. Mr Howard’s refusal to offer one to our First People was overshadowed by Mr Rudd’s belated apology, which Howard refused to attend. For all of the apparent sincerity in Rudd’s apology, the circumstance of our First People has hardly advanced.
    At least with the ‘current’ apology, there is some sort of redress scheme, even if it’s totally inadequate.
    “Along with the other recent Royal Commissions, Morrison’s Aged Care Royal Commission has the potential to make Australia a fairer society, by demonstrating that we as a nation value and support all Australians. And that’s not a bad thing.”
    You’re definitely a glass half full sort. Well may you praise him. I’m more than happy to wait for the burial, figuratively speaking of course. Thank you 2353NM and commenters. Take care

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