Parliament Updates

Zali Steggall MP supports establishing a Committee to oversee the recommendations of Aged Care Royal Commission

24 May, 2021


I rise to support the call from the member for Mayo to establish the Joint Select Committee on Oversight of the Implementation of Recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. The breadth of the recommendations of the royal commission and substantial sums of money involved in implementation warrant a multipartisan committee to review its implementation. The 148 recommendations include legislative change to governance, establishment of specialised facilities and care models to improve public awareness of aged care and conditions for workers. The diversity of issues and the dire need for reform demand ongoing parliamentary scrutiny through a joint select committee, not to mention the expansion of funds to be spent in this sector. An additional $17.7 billion in the budget is allocated to aged care over the next five years, short of the $10 billion a year required to achieve all of the landmark Australian social policy reform as desired by Commissioner Briggs. But it is all the more reason to ensure the funding is spent effectively so that we get maximum value from every dollar spent.

The commissioner recommended that the government establish an Australian aged-care commission to oversee the implementation of the royal commission findings, yet the government did not accept that recommendation, instead preferring a recommendation to elevate the minister to a cabinet role and establish a council of elders and replace the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission with an independent aged-care safety and quality authority.

Given the long-term nature of the implementation of these recommendations and the absence of an independent overarching commission, it's essential that appropriate parliamentary oversight from both houses and multiple parties be established as an enduring body. The proposed joint select committee on oversight of the implementation of the recommendations absolutely is a sensible measure to deliver oversight of the implementation. The committee would have the power to establish subcommittees to inquire into the recommendations that the government committed to investigating further. There has been so much focus and attention on this royal commission, so many people have participated and the stories have been so horrific that we absolutely must make sure that the full implementation is done and that any further investigation is also done.

It includes recommendation 72, which aims to achieve equity for people with disability receiving aged care. My constituents have repeatedly raised this issue with me and were disappointed with the government's response to recommendation 72. Also, a subcommittee to further investigate the feasibility of the recommendation would very much have the support in Warringah. I commend the member for Mayo for taking the proactive steps to ensure that the oversight of this huge expansion of public spending is considered and subject to multipartisan review. It's a matter of integrity and good governance that this committee is established.

We've seen with this budget a huge increase to public debt. We know we are an ageing population and the young people of today are going to be burdened with a huge level of public debt. They have so many responsibilities and crises looming.

We must ensuring that all the public money that is being spent in this sector in implementing the recommendations of the royal commission are done soundly, with integrity, with proper accountability and with proper diligence. You can only ensure good governance if there is scrutiny and that needs to be independent and joint scrutiny. That oversight is incredibly important and will give the Australian people confidence that their money is being spent well, that their concerns are being addressed and that after two long years of this royal commission—of all these horrific stories being told—that there is actually going to be meaningful change, and that recommendations are actually implemented, not just given a passing approval. We don't want announcements. What we really need, what the Australian people are asking for, is real change to this sector and we need to ensure that happens. That is our responsibility as members of this place, to ensure that the stories we heard during the royal commission into aged care do not ever happen again.

Debate adjourned.