I want the best for my aged care providers

23 May, 2023

Deputy Speaker, you've heard the last two speakers. One spoke glowingly about her facility in Nowra, and I asked if they have been able to get a full-time registered nurse to service their organisation. I wonder whether that's the case? You heard from the member for Indi a very in-depth discussion around the problems she is facing is a member of parliament in regional Victoria. I am equally a regional member of parliament, and every word that was spoken by the member for Indi is impacting directly on the people of Monash. They are exactly the same issues. They are everywhere right across the regional state. I haven't had closures, but, when the member for Indi said 74 per cent of aged-care facilities were running at a loss, you had to say, 'Well, has the government got a plan here?' You really have to ask the question.

It's great that the government had decided that aged-care workers across all levels are going to get a 15 per cent pay increase. That then puts pressure on other organisations that are not getting a 15 per cent increase, and the competition for workers within community becomes quite strong. Therefore, it creates other problems. I am not denying the aged-care workers, as I have said for all of my political career, because I have had a long-term issue around aged care. I have been as hard on my own governments as I have been on Labor governments in the past. I have negotiated between state governments and federal governments when the state governments and federal governments were involved, right back to 1990, with Peter Staples as the minister up here and with the aged-care minister in Victoria—both Labor that couldn't get on. I was the negotiator between the two to try to get some action as to what might happen in one of the facilities in my electorate.

My big question here is: yes, you've given a wage rise to aged-care workers. Yes, you've addressed the royal commission's recommendations. Yes, I think your intent is desirable, and I have heard intent before. When Labor members stand before us today and say 'nine years of neglect', that is not the truth. There were nine years of change, but it goes all the way back to 1996, with John Howard, when his outlay was $2 billion on aged care in those days. That went from two to four to six to eight to 12, and now we're in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Mr BROADBENT: I'll take the interjection. The royal commission was called by the former government, not this government. The former government was quite committed to whatever the recommendations were from that royal commission. I reject the 'nine years of neglect', but I would put to you that the royal commission identified certain establishments, certain providers, that were in neglect. I don't know what other members are faced with, but you would've visited your own aged-care centres. I can proudly say that my providers on the whole do a magnificent job. Every time there's been criticism of providers, I've had to write to every one of my aged-care workers and say, 'I know it's not you.'

Labor does not have a plan for an overall future. If you give a wage increase like that, have you indexed it every year so that providers won't be paying that extra money every year and having to cop that as an expense against their business? Then, over 10 years, you have that increasing expense with no support from government to cover it. They're the issues that I'm concerned about, because providers are the last ones who are left with the bucket of money that they have to spend on their residents. I want the best for my aged-care people. I'm sure every member of parliament wants exactly the same thing.

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Russell Broadbent MP
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