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Transcript of Doorstop in Brisbane

Transcript of Minister for Health, Greg Hunt's doorstop in Brisbane regarding Boosting support for older Australians with a $550 million aged care package.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Former Minister for Health and Aged Care

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Thanks very much to Luke and to Paul and the invitation to be here in Petrie and in BallyCara, in particular.

Luke, I have to acknowledge is, exactly as Carrie-Anne said, one of the hardest working and most effective - and most effective – MPs in Australia, federal or state. He’s on the phone, it might be a Saturday afternoon, it might be a Sunday evening, it could be early in the morning on a Tuesday, you'll get a phone call from Luke saying,

I’m just with a constituent and I've got a question about this medicine or primary care or mental health. And he just engages in the most completely committed way. And I don't believe I've ever seen anybody who’s more passionate about their electorate and more passionate about delivering their results.

Paul, your residents spoke for you. They couldn't have given a strong testimonial, they couldn’t have given a more joyous explanation of the care and the support that you and in particular, your amazing staff provide.

To Nicole, to you and your team, what you’ve done is you’ve taken care of our older Australians and you’ve honoured them and honoured their service and you’ve helped provide for their needs.

In terms of providing needs, essential services, the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has recently, just in the last half hour, announced an extraordinary budget turn around. By providing for a strong economy, therefore you’re able to achieve a strong budget.

And with a strong budget you can provide for essential services. I’m delighted that some of those essential services will be in the aged care and primary care area.

The federal government will implement a $550 million aged care package. That package will focus on three things; 10,000 new home care places that will commence from 7 January. Over Christmas, families will have peace of mind.

Over Christmas, families will be able to work with their parents and their grandparents to plan for their needs. This is about taking care of those Australians who have served and those Australians who have need in their older years. In addition to that, 70,000 Australians will benefit from lower home care fees, that’s reducing the cost of living as a consequence of strong budgetary practice and therefore a strong economy.

And then thirdly there'll be over $112 million provided to residential care facilities, such as BallyCara, to support those who are in rural and remote areas or who have homeless needs. It will be a boost to residential care. Residential Care, lower costs for home care and more home care packages coming together in a half-a-billion-dollar aged care support program.

In addition to that, there’s half-a-billion-dollars for primary care, $300 million for our GPs to provide better services in facilities precisely such as this. We’ll be increasing the rate of support for GPs to visit aged care facilities. And we’ll be increasing the support for GPs to provide after hours services.

And as well as that, we’ll be providing additional support for GP as they help those who are in remote and rural Australia. So, these things together; $500 million for aged care, $500 million for primary care and general practice and all up it's about saving lives and protecting lives and supporting those who’ve supported us.


Some Labor ministers have said that this announcement doesn't make up for previous cuts. What do you say to that?


Well, what we see is that aged care under us has gone from 13.5 billion to 20, 21, 22, and 23 billion dollars. So I would respectfully say to the ALP they've been caught out, red handed, in a slightly ungenerous and slightly unseasonal little fit.


When Scott Morrison obviously came into the prime ministership, he really- a large focus was on the aged care sector, obviously we have the royal commission as well. In terms of moving forward with really weeding out, I guess, the dodgy private enterprise when it comes to nursing homes, what will be done in the future?


So the Prime Minister is absolutely passionate about aged care. When he was Treasurer, he and I worked together to help deliver an additional 20,000 home care places.

This is another 10,000 places on top of that. At the same time one of his first acts was to call a Royal Commission into Aged Care. The vast majority of Australians and residential facilities are outstanding. BallyCara is one of the gold standard providers across Australia.

But where there are examples of breach, the royal commission will find them and will take punitive action. I have no doubt about that. We're providing additional services and additional resources but we will not stand for any substandard treatment, and that's the work for the royal commission and it's in the hands of the royal commissioners who’ve already begun to make their approaches and to begin their formal hearings very soon.

But in the meantime, as the Prime Minister said when we announced the royal commission, we’re not waiting for their results; we're getting on with the job in terms of additional services and additional support and we've also appointed the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson and she's already in the role and her work is under way.


In terms of those extra 10,000 homecare places, is that enough to, I guess, counteract that waiting list?


This will make a very significant difference. It’s 5000 level three and 5000 level four places and coupled with the lower cost of fees for people who are in their own homes – 70,000 Australians would benefit from those lower fees; it will make a big difference.

The fees in particular will also help people take up level one and level two packages. It was a fee structure we inherited from the previous Labor government and it’s a structure which we’re changing to lower the cost of in-home care for older Australian who might be doing it tough.


Leading into the New Year, do you feel that Scott Morrison is the best captain on the ship?


Absolutely. I think that Scott Morrison has the potential to be our finest – not just Liberal leader – but finest prime minister since John Howard and he’s very much in the John Howard mould.

He gets Australia. He’s from Australia. His dad was a policeman. He has strong faith. He’s a deep lover of rugby league and I’m working with him on the Australian Rules side of things, but there’s just a genuine authenticity coupled with super capability and it’s a privilege working with him, every day, it’s a privilege working with him.

Alright, thank you very much.


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