The Federal Government’s protection of “a few big interests” was on show last week when it voted against accountability proposals from the Royal Commission into Aged Care. Public health researcher, Dr Sarah Russell, reports.
A couple of days before the Four Corners investigation, Who Cares, was to air, Scott Morrison rushed to announce a Royal Commission into Aged Care. This was a government turnaround directly in anticipation of the damning ABC expose.
When interviewed for the program about a month earlier, Wyatt had said a royal commission would be an unnecessary move because the Government was already reviewing the sector.
“A royal commission, after two years and maybe $200 million being spent on it, will come back with the same set or a very similar set of recommendations,” he said, preferring to see that money go towards frontline aged care services.
Emails revealed at the RC show a flurry of activity in response to programs on the ABC whilst reports from the department on how to address the problems languished on the Minister’s desk.
Protecting his precious surplus, Morrison is willing to let people die while waiting for help.
Not only that, he wants kudos for calling yet another inquiry into a crisis of his party’s making in its never-ending pursuit of profit and deregulation
Anticipating the program, and the likely response to its stories of neglect, poor food and failures of care, newly installed Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a royal commission into the $22-billion-a-year sector.
But there was more bad publicity to come. In January, 7.30 broadcast a story about the use of chemical and physical restraints in some nursing homes, which sent further shockwaves through the community.
Governments often make funding announcements when they are in a political tight spot, and need to look like they are doing something.
But the particular nature of the $320 million payment announced in February — then re-announced in March — then re-announced in the federal budget — has caused disquiet even among those who benefit from it, the owners and shareholders of residential aged-care facilities.
Well, the sector says that, since 2014, between pausing and reducing indexation of ongoing residential care subsidies, rejigging the funding formula and other changes, the current Government has reduced funding to the sector by about $3 billion.