Morrison Government Failures - 10/02/2022

10 February 2022


The MPI today is about the failures of this government to deliver for the Australian people. There is no more pressing example than the current crisis that our aged-care system is in. Aged care was in crisis before COVID. We have seen report after report. We have seen a royal commission showing absolutely unacceptable neglect in aged care, with neglectful, disgraceful treatment of our older Australians, our parents, our grandparents, our husbands and wives and loved ones, who are suffering. The workers who front up every day have fronted up every day of this pandemic, at risk to their own health and their family's health, to care for these people because they care so deeply about the residents that they care for. But the government is not there supporting them at all.

On Tuesday we met with a group of workers from the aged-care sector from the Australian Nursing & Midwifery Federation. It was an honour to meet with those people, predominantly women, and hear about what they are going through at the moment. Some of them had fronted up after working through night shifts because it was so important for them to be here to give this message. The Prime Minister didn't come out and meet with them. The Prime Minister doesn't care about what's going on in aged care. In fact, he denied time and time again that it was a crisis until realising that people knew it was a crisis. It's always someone else's fault.

The very minister who is responsible has failed time and time again to prevent and manage this foreseeable crisis of preventable deaths of vulnerable Australians in the aged-care system that is clearly a federal government responsibility. On their watch these people have died and these people are suffering, isolated and neglected. A quarter of the shifts for the workers who care for them are not being filled at the moment, because of the COVID crisis. It could have been prevented if boosters and RATs, rapid antigen tests, had been delivered to the residents and the staff in aged care.

We knew this was coming. We knew this. We are three years into this pandemic, and even before it hit here in Australia we knew that one of the most vulnerable parts of our community was the aged-care sector. We knew that that's where we had to get the vaccines rolled out immediately. This government failed in 2020, and they have failed again with this omicron variant, which we should have seen coming. We saw this coming, and they weren't there for those vulnerable Australians. Now we've got the Defence Force going into aged care. It should never have come to this.

What a situation we have here, with the stories you hear from the people working in aged care, working so hard to deliver these people some dignity. These people are in agony. People are falling out of bed, lying on the floor. Which person do you go to first—the person who has fallen or the person who needs to be taken to the toilet or needs to be changed or needs to be showered or needs to be fed? It's not happening. People are isolated, away from their families, and ill. Families are desperately worried about these people in aged care. It is not good enough.

If there is any question about whether this Prime Minister even cares about Australians, it has been this awful summer that Australians have endured and the way that he smirked his way through it at the cricket, saying, 'We're taking wickets in the pandemic.' People were ill. People were dying. His answer has always been to see it as a political problem. When the testing started to fail, rather than getting RATs out to people for free, he said, 'Get out of the line. Go to the beach. Jenny can pick up a RATs when she goes down to the chemist'—when we all know it was just about impossible to get them.

This is a government that does not care. We are in the dying days of this parliament and we are debating bills to divide Australians rather than legislation to address this urgent crisis. It is unforgivable from this government.