Aged Care Minister Anika Wells has refused to rule out an aged care tax in her Press Club speech today.
With an aging population, we understand the need for a sustainable aged care system for all Australians now and for future generations.
As stated by the Opposition Leader in the Budget-in-Reply speech, the Coalition is committed to working constructively with the Government to improve the sector’s sustainability.
The announcement of an Aged Care Taskforce to look at sustainability solutions is a welcome development following this commitment.
However, the Minister’s refusal to rule out any new taxes today was deeply concerning.
Additionally, despite the Taskforce being set up to provide advice to government, the Minister has appointed herself as the Chair, causing concerns that this will lead to less genuine consultation and the Minister putting forward policy solutions to her own government.
The Minister must ease concerns by guaranteeing that this Taskforce will be a transparent advisory body and that discussions will be publicly available.
Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston said, ‘The Minister’s refusal to rule out a new aged care tax today, despite being given two opportunities to do so, is particularly disappointing.’
‘The Coalition stands ready to work constructively with the Government for the future sustainability of our critical aged care sector, but that doesn’t mean a new tax is the answer.
‘This government went to the election promising Australians ‘no new taxes’, but the Minister’s actions today are a very worrying sign that they are not committed to keeping that promise,’ Senator Ruston said.
The Albanese Labor Government must ensure that any decisions they make to address the sustainability of Australia’s aged care sector are not rushed and ill-considered like other aged care policy from this government has been so far.
We are currently witnessing firsthand how ill-conceived and rushed policy from Labor only harms the viability of our aged care homes and, in worst cases, tragically forces them to close.
The Minister stated at the Australian Press Club today that the ‘boat doesn’t leave the harbour on 1 July’ when her expedited staffing requirements come into effect, but many aged care providers are already feeling stranded.
Despite her acknowledgment that the sector is ‘thousands’ of workers short of the staffing requirements being introduced in less than a month’s time, the Minister has failed to provide any additional support or flexibility.
This Minister also failed to mention the words ‘rural’, ‘regional’ or ‘remote’ once during her speech today, proving that the unique circumstances faced by providers in regional Australia are not a focus of this government.
Providers are calling for the exemption criteria to be expanded while the current workforce crisis is ongoing to give them the assurance and time they need, but that is not what they were given today from the Minister.