Oct 29, 2020

Minister for Aged Care wants to hold on to top job


The Minister who has overseen one of the most controversial and dramatic periods in the history of Australia’s aged care sector says he wishes to remain in the top job.

At the Senate’s Community Affairs Legislation Committee earlier this week, Richard Colbeck said he was “determined to continue the work I’ve been doing since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in the interests of senior Australians and particularly those in aged care.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to reshuffle his ministry at the end of the year, and Mr Colbeck said it would be “a matter for the prime minister” whether or not he would continue in the role of Minister for Aged Care.

But he said he would like to hold onto the portfolio.

“I don’t feel responsible personally for the deaths”

When asked if he felt ministerial responsibility for the 685 COVID-19-related deaths in aged care this year, Mr Colbeck replied: “I don’t feel responsible personally for the deaths that have occurred, as tragic as they all are.”

He attributed the deaths to community transmission, not governmental mishandling of the response. 

“The thing that would have saved lives is the prevention of the escape of COVID-19 in Victoria leading to the second wave,” he told the Committee.

Labor Senator Kristina Keneally asked the Minister if he requested the aged care portfolio.

“It was a gift of the Prime Minister,” he said. “We all serve at his pleasure.”

Mr Colbeck assured the Committee that the government would meet the 1 December deadline to report on the actions it has taken to comply with recommendations in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety’s report on the aged care sector’s response to COVID-19. 

But he provided little detail. “We’re still considering the process,” he said.

The royal commission’s report detailed failings in the way the government prepared the aged care sector for the pandemic, despite earlier catastrophic outbreaks in aged care homes across Europe and the United States making clear the vulnerability of the aged care populations.

Aged care workers want him to go

It seems that workers on the front line in aged care do not give the Minister their seal of approval. 

In a small ‘snap poll’ of members of HelloCare’s Aged Care Worker Support Group, the vote was unanimously ‘no’ when asked if Mr Colbeck should remain as the Minister for Aged Care.


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  1. Why would Senator Colbeck resign ? the senior officials who have been managing Aged Care for many years are still there.

    Extraordinarily low standards of accountability have continued under a number of Ministers.

    One of the greatest challenges for Aged Care is find Ministers and senior managers who are competent, and tough enough on themselves, to establish high standards for the whole sector.

    There is always a new excuse for high level failure and incompetence in Aged Care.

  2. The Aged Care Minister is a disgrace. At least 800 people have died in nursing homes. It is not like he did not know that the homes that he was responsible for were filthy neglectful places. This is like a slow train coming. Everybody saw it but nobody stopped it and now Aged Care is a train wreck.


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