ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
2SM MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
FRIDAY, 4 SEPTEMBER 2020
SUBJECT: Aged care
MARCUS PAUL: Anthony, good morning, how are you?
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning, I’m very well.
PAUL: Thank you for your time, I know you’re very busy this morning. Look, we played the audio earlier. Senator Penny Wong formally moved for the second time to have Senator Colbeck censured for failing to take responsibility for the devastating crisis in aged care which has caused death, grief and untold trauma for vulnerable Australians and their families. Hopefully, Anthony, this is the start of the end of this minister and an improvement to the aged care sector.
ALBANESE: Well, it should have been the end of this minister yesterday. Richard Colbeck, censured by the Senate with the support of every single crossbencher. Now, that just doesn’t happen. Everyone, from the Greens to One Nation, joined with Labor to take a common position. But they did on this minister, because this minister simply isn’t up to the job. We have reports in recent days about thousands – literally, thousands – of assaults of aged care residents. Violence, physical violence.
PAUL: I said earlier Anthony, I wonder whether that was the tipping point. Sorry, Albo, I wonder whether that was the tipping point to get the support that was needed because I think that was just the tip of the iceberg, Anthony, because this is a conservative – this report in the Telegraph that Penny Wong referenced yesterday. This is a conservative estimate when it comes to unfortunate rapes and assaults of people in aged care. I think this might have been a tipping point.
ALBANESE: Well, I think the idea that elderly Australians are subject to this abuse is horrifying to Australians. It’s particularly disturbing for anyone who has a relative in aged care. And there’s no doubt that the facts would be that the numbers are much higher because of the nature of aged care residents, with – there would be under-reporting. Common sense tells you that that’s the case. We have a rise in the number of dementia cases for example of people who are aged care residents that would lead to an under-reporting.
PAUL: What next? What next to improve the aged care sector? We’ve had this censure motion. It’s passed, 25 – 21. What’s the process next? You’ll obviously continue to pressure the Government to improve things. Will Mr Colbeck survive the next week do you think?
ALBANESE: Look, the only reason why he remains there is Scott Morrison’s stubbornness, who has issues with a range of ministers in the past events and issues that are still running. Ministers like Angus Taylor are still there even though there’s no explanation about the documentation. We have involvement of ministers in sports rorts, and it all seems to be just swept under the carpet. But what is of great concern here isn’t just – I’m not terribly concerned about Richard Colbeck – I’m concerned about aged care residents and them getting care. I put forward a week ago, a very practical plan for aged care – an eight point plan: minimum staffing levels; making sure they have access to proper training; a better surge Workforce Strategy; more transparency in accordance with what the Aged Care Royal Commissioners have already called for. And you know, minimum staffing levels and we get no response effectively from the Government on those issues. The Royal Commission, in one word summed up what they thought the state of aged care was last October – on the 31st of October last year – so before the pandemic, one word: neglect.
PAUL: And that’s the issue. Scott Morrison does – and look, I know we’re dealing with a pandemic – and I understand that you know, the National Cabinet are getting together today. I mean, something which I sternly believe you should have a seat on. But anyway, I know that they’re discussing borders. And there’s a whole range of other issues that are going on. But we can’t allow for COVID-19 to effectively distract from the fact that elder Australians are dying. Elderly Australians are being neglected, Anthony, as you say. And the Royal Commission backs this up. Something needs to be urgently done and the sooner the better.
ALBANESE: And that’s absolutely right. And there are some practical measures that they could and implement today.
But it’s not happening. And that is a real concern. And Scott Morrison yesterday showed, I think, incredible arrogance to dismiss the position that the Senate had taken to censure Senator Colbeck. This isn’t something that happens every day.
ALBANESE: The Coalition have been in government now, of course, they’re in their third term. Other ministers don’t get censured by the Senate. This should have some consequences. This is a vote of no-confidence in this minister from everyone except for the Liberal and National parties.
PAUL: Alright, I know you’re busy Albo. I’ll let you go. We’ll talk more on this each and every week and let’s keep pushing for some improvements. Something desperately needs to be done and I appreciate your time as always, thank you.
ALBANESE: Thanks very much Marcus.