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Friday, December 1, 2023

Labor not in favour of aged care levy

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Labor is not considering imposing a levy to help improve the aged care system as had been recommend by the royal commission inquiry into the sector.

This month’s Federal Budget has provided a much-needed $17.7 billion injection over the next four years for the aged care sector, although advocates, economists and the opposition say it should have been more like $10 billion a year.

Labor’s aged care spokeswoman Clare O’Neil says the royal commission found many residents are malnourished, while the aged care work force is chronically underpaid.

“Labor is thinking about what we might do differently, but the first thing that is important here is what should the system look like and then we’ll talk about how to pay for it,” she told the ABC’s Insiders program.

“A levy is not something that is in consideration at the moment.”

She said the sector is in crisis and there is a lot that needs to be done to provide better transparency and accountability.

“We are certainly going to have a different and better aged care policy going into the election. I don’t think the focus just needs to be on the dollars spent here,” O’Neil said.

The royal commission recommended a $10 per bed increase to providers, tied to registration and increased spending on food.

But O’Neill said instead the Government is writing a $3.2 billion cheque to aged care providers with no strings attached.

“There is no reason to believe that anything in the Government’s response will solve the malnourishment crisis in aged care,” she said.

Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt disagreed.

He says providers will not be paid unless they meet the standards as recommended by the royal commission.

“That’s in black and white, it was there on budget night and one of those things I think they (Labor) forgot to read in the material,” Hunt said.

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