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Friday, December 8, 2023

Colbeck resists calls in parliament for his resignation

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The aged care minister has resisted calls in parliament to resign from the frontbench following the large number of COVID deaths in residential facilities across the country.

Senator Richard Colbeck said he had always continued to work during the aged care crisis, as Omicron cases surged in the sector.

The minister told parliament there had been 1288 cases of COVID-19 in aged care facilities since the beginning of the year, with 587 deaths.

“We’ve had the courage to admit (we haven’t got everything right),” he told the first sitting of the Senate for the year.

“I’m not interested in Labor’s word games.”

It was also revealed data remains unavailable on the number of those who had died from COVID in aged care who had also had their booster shot.

The lack of data was blamed on a lag in reporting from states and territories.

Since the beginning of the Omicron wave, there have been 9141 deaths in aged care, with 682 of those being from COVID-19.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison also defended the Government’s response to COVID in aged care.

“It has been an incredibly tough time for those who have been working in those facilities, with the onset of Omicron, and it has been incredibly tough for those families who had to say goodbye to loved ones,” he told parliament.

“At every moment of this pandemic, we have sought to provide every single support we possibly can to ensure we can be assisting both the workforce and those who are engaged in providing that care.”

It comes after the Government announced on Monday that about 1700 Australian Defence Force personnel would be sent in to assist aged care facilities.

The decision was made after the prime minster ruled out deploying the defence force multiple times earlier this year.

When asked by Labor about aged care deaths, the prime minister accused opposition leader Anthony Albanese of trying to politicise the pandemic.

“On each and every occasion, we have sought to apply the resources, whether they be the defence forces, indeed our own public service officers and those around the country to address the needs that have been required,” he said.

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