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Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Labor critical of coalition aged care handling, backs strike action

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Federal Labor has backed aged care workers across the nation planning to walk off the job over low pay and under staffing.

Thousands of aged care staff in Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia have voted in favour of strike action.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese is today in the seat of Rankin, south of Brisbane, where he told reporters Labor’s five point to plan to overhaul the system included pay rises for staff, based on royal commission recommendations.

He said there was a reason the one-word title of the royal commission report into the sector was ‘Neglect’.

“We want every dollar that goes into aged care to go into better care and better food and better outcomes for our older Australians,” he said.

“This election is about whether we have a government that looks after people, or whether we have Scott Morrison who goes missing. 

“You’ll see Scott Morrison doing good pictures … but he doesn’t deliver on his key responsibility.”

Fair Work Commission hearings into a union bid to lift aged care pay to 25 per cent above the award will start next week.

Opposition industrial relations spokesman Tony Burke said “pressure had built up” on workers, whose wages have flatlined over the past decade.

“Every week as the pay comes through and the bills come through, it’s becoming tighter and tighter,” he said.

“People are saying we need to get wages moving and Mr Morrison’s response to that is to legislate a pay cut.”

Liberal campaign spokeswoman Anne Ruston, who has been named as the Government’s health and aged care minister if re-elected, said the Government had provided $18.8 billion to fund the aged care royal commission recommendations. 

“We accept there were a lot of things that were wrong with aged care,” she told Sky News. 

“But that’s what we’re addressing at the moment.”

In response to a question about former NSW premier Mike Baird backing Labor’s 24-hour nurse pledge for homes, Ruston said the Government also accepted that finding.  

“We also accepted that … it would take us until 2024 to be able to do this in a way that didn’t have detrimental and consequential impacts on other areas of the healthcare sector that rely on our nursing staff,” she said. 

Health Minister Greg Hunt attacked Albanese over not being “across his aged care brief” and said the Federal Government provided a detailed response to all 148 recommendations made. 

“Labor has not addressed these recommendations, except where they have blatantly ignored the explicit advice of the commission, which will potentially result in aged care facilities closing,” he posted on Twitter. 

“This is another shameful moment which shows Labor is not ready to look after Australia’s seniors.”


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